By ROBERT JOHNSON, BUSINESSINSIDER-—
In the first week of December 2012, Iran announced the capture of a U.S. Navy Scan Eagle drone and plans to learn its secrets.
Having been off the coast of Iran last fall and seen the number of Scan Eagles surveilling the region it always seemed reasonable to me that Iran had captured one. We posted images of Iran’s model and the Scan Eagle I had personally taken pictures of in the Gulf.
Although the U.S. denied the event, Tehran may have proof that it really did capture a drone.
Iran’s state-run FARS news agency released news this weekend of of a Scan Eagle production line.
FARS claims the drones are well past production and already in service within Tehran’s armed forces.
“ScanEagle had been in our possession before and we have even copied it in production,” Hajizadeh underscored at the time. On December 4, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced that his forces hunted a US Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) over the Persian Gulf after the drone violated the country’s airspace.
ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing. As standard payload ScanEagle carries either an inertially stabilized electro-optical or an infrared camera. The gimbaled camera allows the operator to easily track both stationary and moving targets, providing real-time intelligence. Capable of flying above 16,000 feet, the UAV has also demonstrated the ability to provide persistent low-altitude reconnaissance.
The development came exactly a year after Iran announced on December 4, 2011 that its defense forces had downed a US RQ-170 drone through a sophisticated cyber attack. The RQ-170 has special coatings and a bat-wing shape designed to help it penetrate other nations’ air defenses undetected.
The RQ-170 data was released out of Iran last week and lent a lot of credibility to various Iranian claims in the months since the RQ-170 disappeared. That suggests Iran was able to breach a secure data line and pull out all data intact for review. No small feat when dealing with hardware employed by the CIA.Whether the Scan Eagle is cloned and in production, or if Tehran hacked the RQ-170 last year and escorted it down or not, one thing is certain: It’s time the U.S. started taking its longtime enemy a bit more seriously.
And perhaps deliver a bit more honesty to the world, especially if Iran will just follow up with the truth only months later.