4 Dec 2012

US denies ScanEagle drone shot down by Iran

The US Navy denies it has lost any drones in the Middle East, following claims by Iran that a small unmanned aircraft was shot down over the Gulf.

The reports claimed that Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard had captured a US drone after it entered Iranian airspace over the Gulf.

Al-Alam, the Iranian state TV’s Arabic-language channel, showed what appeared to be an intact ScanEagle drone on display in front of a map. The station claimed it was the first pictures of the captured drone.

However a US Navy spokesman said that no American drones are missing in the Middle East.

“The US Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles (UAV) operating in the Middle East region. Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and air space,” a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain said.

“We have no record that we have lost any ScanEagles recently.

What is a ScanEagle?

A ScanEagle is a small long-endurance UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) used for surveillance. Because of its size it can be deployed using a catapult or “SkyWedge” launcher. It can stay in the air for 24-hours.

In December 2011 Iranian TV broadcast pictures of another type of US surveillance drone, an RQ-170 Sentinel, it claimed had been shot down (see video below). US officials also denied this, but admitted the craft had malfunctioned.