Wed, Dec 05, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Iran ‘captures US drone’

INTRUDER INTERCEPTED:There was no comment from the US Navy, but Iranian TV showed officers examining what appeared to be an intact US Scan Eagle aircraft

AP, TEHRAN

Iranian state TV said yesterday that the country’s Revolutionary Guard had captured a US drone after it entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf.

The report quoted the Guard’s navy chief, General Ali Fadavi, as saying that Iranian forces caught the “intruding” drone, which had apparently taken off from a US aircraft carrier.

Fadavi said the unmanned Scan Eagle aircraft was now in Iran’s possession.

“The US drone, which was conducting a reconnaissance flight and gathering data over the Persian Gulf in the past few days, was captured by the Guard’s navy air defense unit as soon as it entered Iranian airspace,” Fadavi said. “Such drones usually take off from large warships.”

He did not provide any further details, nor said when the incident happened. There was no immediate comment from the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, but al-Alam, the state TV’s Arabic-language channel, showed two Guard commanders examining what appeared to be an intact Scan Eagle drone.

In the footage, the two men then point to a huge map of the Persian Gulf in the background, showing the drone’s alleged path of entry into Iranian airspace.

“We shall trample on the US,” was printed on the map, next to the Guard’s coat of arms.

If true, the seizure of the drone would be the third reported incident involving Iran and US drones in the past two years.

Last month, Iran claimed that a US drone had violated its airspace. The Pentagon said the unmanned aircraft came under fire — at least twice, but was not hit — and that the Predator was over international waters.

The Nov. 1 shooting in the Gulf was unprecedented, and it further escalated tensions between the US and Iran, which is under international sanctions over its nuclear program. Tehran denies it is pursuing a nuclear weapon and insists the program is for peaceful purposes.

Last year, Iran claimed it brought down a CIA spy drone after it entered Iranian airspace from its eastern borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan. The RQ-170 Sentinel drone, which is equipped with stealth technology, was captured almost intact. Tehran later said it recovered data from the drone.

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