Total Pageviews

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Video of Drone on Iranian Television

Video from Iran's Al Alam satellite news channel, said to show a captured American drone.

As my colleague Thomas Erdbrink reports from Tehran, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps displayed on Tuesday what state television channels described as a captured American drone that had entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf “in the past few days.”

A video report from the Iranian satellite news channel Press TV on the American drone the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claims to have captured.

While the small craft shown on the Iranian satellite channels Press TV and Al Alam resembled an image of a ScanEagle drone on the Web site of Boeing's Insitu Group, which manufactures the vehicle, a spokesman for the United States Navy said “We have no record that we have lost any ScanEagles recently.” The spokesman also insisted that the American “operations in the gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and air space.”

The Iranian channels did not say exactly when the drone had come into their hands, but the state news reports came one year after a similar announcement by the Revolutionary Guar ds. Last December, the Guards displayed an American RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone that had crossed into Iran from Afghanistan, in what United States officials called a mistake caused by a computer malfunction.

Like last year's event, the presentation of the drone to Iran's media was carefully stage-managed by the Revolutionary Guards. In Tuesday's display, the craft was installed in the sort of diorama that would not look out of place in the American Museum of Natural History - but for the fact that the legend behind the vehicle read, “We Shall Trample on the U.S.”

Iran's Fars News Agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, trumpeted the news with an editorial cartoon showing the two drones sharing an Iranian birdcage as their new home.

A screenshot of a cartoon on the Web site of Iran's Fars News Agency. A screenshot of a cartoon on the Web site of Iran's Fars News Agency.

Fars, which has run into problems by lifting material from other Web sites in the past, also illustrated its report with photographs of a ScanEagle drone apparently copied from a Dutch news agency site after a Google Image search.

The drone on display on Tuesday did not appear to have an American military markings, and, as the Dutch agency's report makes clear, not all of the unmanned aerial vehicles in operation belong to the United States. According to the Dutch Defence Press, “Dutch army U.A.V. operators started training for ScanEagle operations at Insitu's facilities in the United States early 2012. Both systems are expected to achieve operational capability by late 2012.”

It was not immediately clear if anyone in Iran plans to produce a toy replica of the new drone for collectors, as one Tehran firm did last year.