TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said it extracted data from a U.S. drone and that capturing the unmanned aerial vehicle proves the Persian Gulf nation can protect itself from foreign aggression. The U.S. disputes Iran’s claim it seized a drone.
The drone’s mission was to “gather military data and information pertaining to the energy sector and shipment of crude from Iran’s oil terminals," Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif, head of the public relations department of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, said in a report published Wednesday in the Tehran-based Etemaad newspaper.
The state-run Press TV news channel showed images Tuesday of what it said was the ScanEagle drone that had been captured intact. The aircraft was seized after violating the Islamic Republic’s airspace, Iranian officials said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the U.S. has “no evidence Iranian claims are true." The U.S. Navy “has fully accounted for all unmanned aerial vehicles operating in the Middle East region," Commander Jason Salata, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, said Tuesday.
His statement didn’t make clear whether the Navy was vouching for all drones flown by agencies such as the CIA or by U.S. allies or for drones that may have been lost in the past.
The seizure of the ScanEagle drone by Iran “is not something Americans can easily deny," Sharif said.
Even if Iran took possession of a ScanEagle, it “will offer very limited sensitive technology," Philip Finnegan, an aerospace analyst at the Teal Group Corp., a Fairfax, Va.-based defense-market analysis firm, said in an emailed statement. The system, made by the Insitu unit of Chicago-based Boeing, has been around for almost a decade and is being superseded by a new model called the Integrator, “which will carry considerable more payload," he said.