Tehran has claimed it captured a US spy drone in the Persian Gulf after the unmanned aircraft entered Iranian airspace, Iran’s Press TV reported. The drone was identified as a US-made ScanEagle.
The drone was allegedly gathering intelligence on Iran, and was detected after flying over the Persian Gulf for the past two days.
The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Navy captured the drone after the aircraft violated Iranian airspace, naval chief Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said.
“Such drones are usually sent [on a] mission from large warships,” Fadavi told Fars news agency.
The ScanEagle is manufactured by Boeing, and is four feet long with a 10-foot (3-meter) wingspan.
The US has reportedly increased its number of spy drone missions into Iran over the past two months on concerns over Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, the Wall Street Journal said.
The US has stepped up its use of state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) capable of recording multiple media formats from thousands of feet in the air.
In a November 19 letter sent from Tehran and made available to the Journal, Iranian leaders appealed to the United Nations to complain about Washington’s drone spying.
Amid these concerns, a US drone was detected near the Iranian city of Bushehr, and was tailed by Iranian fighter jets who attempted to shoot down the aircraft.
And 11 months earlier, a spy drone operated by the US was intercepted mid-flight by Iran and grounded. Iranian engineers then allegedly dismantled and reverse-engineered the UAV.
Iran later said that the drone was top-secret and equipped with stealth technology, and that Tehran had begun building its own version.