Iran says it captured two more U.S. drones before ScanEagle
Remarks of Revolutionary Guard naval chief follow Iranian claims that it downed a U.S. drone that was gathering information over Persian Gulf waters.
The naval chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard claims Iranian forces had captured at least two other U.S.drones before unveiling a purportedly downed ScanEagle craft earlier this month.
Monday's report by the official IRNA news agency does not say when the two other drones were allegedly taken.
It quotes Adm. Ali Fadavi as saying the drone shown on state TV was the third captured ScanEagle, a relatively simple surveillance craft made by a Boeing subsidiary.
Fadavi says Iranian-made copies of the ScanEagle have been put into service, but did not elaborate.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy said none of its drones were missing from recent missions, but some might have fallen into the sea in the past. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
On December 4, Iran announced that it had captured a ScanEagle drone belonging to the United States, but Washington said there was no evidence to support the assertion.
The ScanEagle drone was gathering information over Persian Gulf waters and had entered Iranian airspace, when it was captured by the naval unit of the Revolutionary Guards force, the Fars news agency reported.
Besides saying that the "intruding" drone was captured, the Guard's navy chief, Gen. Ali Fadavi, gave no details on the location of the alleged capture or when the incident occurred.
Cmdr. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the U.S.¬ Navy's 5th Fleet, says all U.S. drones in the region are "fully accounted for." He also cast doubt on Iranian claims, saying U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf are "confined to internationally recognized water and airspace."
Following that claim, Iran said it obtained data from the U.S. intelligence drone, showing the United States was spying on Iran's military sites and oil terminals, according to local media reports.