Entries in Drone (22)


Iran Threatening to Take US to Court over Drones

Erik Simonsen/Getty(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran is not backing down from its claim that it captured a U.S.-made drone over its airspace recently.

In fact, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi went as far to say on Wednesday that Tehran will move ahead with legal action against the U.S. because of its alleged "drone incursion."

According to Salehi, Iran would seek prosecution against Washington in international court because a ScanEagle was supposedly gathering intelligence as it entered Iran's airspace.

Tehran said this was a further example of a U.S. attempt at spying.  Last December, an unmanned RQ-170 stealth aircraft was found in eastern Iran although the Pentagon said the drone was brought down by mechanical failures.

Last month, Washington acknowledged that a Predator drone was fired upon by the Iranians while over international airspace.  The aircraft was not hit.

As for the disputed ScanEagle, which is smaller and flies lower than other drones, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Bahrain said that no such aircraft was missing in the Persian Gulf -- a claim reiterated by the White House.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Navy Denies Iran 'Captured' American Drone

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac/Released(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Navy has denied Iran's claim that it "captured" a small, unmanned U.S. drone over the Persian Gulf.

On Tuesday, Iran state media reported that the ScanEagle drone, which is small enough to be carried by hand, did not get far into Iranian airspace when the naval unit of the Revolutionary Guards allegedly "captured" it.

Iran did not say when, where or how it gained possession of the ScanEagle, which flies at a lower altitude than the much larger Predators or Reapers employed by the CIA.

Cmdr. Jason Salata of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain, however, said that the Navy "has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles operating in the Middle East region."

He told ABC News that ScanEagles have been lost in the past but not recently.

Salata also noted that all of the Navy's unmanned vehicles are "operating within internationally recognized waters and airspace," countering Iran's claim that the drone entered its airspace.

He suggested that Iran may have another nation's drone in its possession, being that it is "an off-the-shelf item manufactured by Boeing."

 Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Confirms Firing at US Drone

Erik Simonsen/Getty(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran has confirmed that it used warplanes to fire at a U.S. drone over a week ago. Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Friday that the country's armed forces took "smart and firm" action when an unidentified aircraft entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf, according to Iranian media reports.

Vahidi was responding to claims by U.S. Department of Defense officials who said that the drones were unarmed and that the incident occurred over international waters.

General Masoud Jazayeri said that Iran would confront any "flying object" that entered its air space and Iranian forces would respond strongly to any ground, sea or air "invasion."

"The defenders of the Islamic Republic of Iran give decisive response to any aerial, ground or sea aggression," Jazayeri said responding to a FARS News Agency question about the Pentagon's statement, adding, "If any kind of alien flying object wants to enter our country's airspace, our armed forces will confront it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Mocks Obama with Toy Drone

Michael Skoglund/Workbook Stock/Stocktrek Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- The Iranian government, which captured a U.S. stealth drone in December, has agreed to give the top-secret spy craft back, but with a catch. Instead of the original RQ-170 Sentinel drone, the Islamic Republic said Tuesday that it will send President Obama a tiny toy replica of the plane.

Iranian state radio said that the toy model will be 1/80th the size of the real thing. Iranian citizens can also buy their own toy copies of the drone, which will be available in stores for the equivalent of $4.

The White House formally requested return of the drone after the Iranians displayed it on state television. The U.S. says that the craft was operating over Eastern Afghanistan.

The Iranians claim they detected the drone well inside Iran's border and then took control of the craft electronically and brought it down safely. The U.S. has denied that the craft came down for any reason other than technical malfunction.

On Dec. 11, after President Obama said he had "requested" the return of the drone, an Iranian general said that it was not going to happen. The general also warned on Iranian television of a "bigger response" to the "hostile act" of crossing into Iranian airspace.

"No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country," Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps [IRGC] Lt. Commander Gen. Hossein Salami said, according to Iran's Fars News Agency.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that, "given Iran's behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply" with Obama's request. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also said he didn't expect Iran to hand over the drone, but told reporters, "I think it's important to make that request."

Critics of Obama called the "request" timid, with some, inlcuding former Vice President Dick Cheney, reccommending the super-secret drone should have been destroyed by a U.S. airstrike once it was downed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Asking Nicely Didn't Work: Iranian Say They're Keeping US Drone

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images (file photo)(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran is not about to hand over a top secret U.S. surveillance aircraft it claims it brought down two weeks ago.

President Obama told reporters Monday that the U.S. "asked" to have the unmanned drone returned but Tehran replied that it wasn't about to honor the request -- not now or ever.

Iran's Far News Agency wrote Tuesday, "Obama begs Iran to give him back his toy plane...We are still wondering how he shamelessly asked Tehran to give the U.S. back the stealth drone which had violated the Iranian airspace for espionage."

President Obama's reaction to the was flamed by his critics, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said Obama should have ordered an airstrike to destroy the downed drone in an effort to vaporize its secret payload of data and the drone itself, said to be the most advanced U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle in the skies.

The U.S. contends that RQ-170 Sentinel, which was supposed to be flying over western Afghanistan, malfunctioned, rejecting Iranian claims that it was shot down.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi told Iran's ISNA news agency, "The American espionage drone is now Iran's property, and our country will decide what steps to take regarding it."

According to some sources, Iran has already drained intelligence from the plane in order to create a fleet of "drone clones."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama: US Asked Iran to Return Drone

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama said Monday the United States has asked Iran to return the spy drone captured by that country’s military.

“We have asked for it back.  We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said following a meeting at the White House with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The president’s comments were the first official confirmation that the United States had asked for the return of the RQ-70 drone that was reported missing more than a week ago. In the week since, Pentagon and State Department officials have repeatedly said they were unaware of any efforts by the American government to contact Iran to have the drone returned to the U.S.

Speaking later in the afternoon Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was doubtful the U.S. would get its “equipment” back.

“Given Iran’s behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply,” she said during a press conference with her British counterpart.

Obama did not say how U.S. officials asked Iran to return the drone, since there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries.

But U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive diplomatic issues, told ABC News the request was made through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents American interests there in the absence of a U.S. embassy.

Officials say the RQ-70 drone was flying a mission for the CIA over Iran at the time that its operators lost control of the drone.

Publicly, American officials have remained tight-lipped about the drone’s mission and have not strayed beyond a vague statement issued by coalition military forces in Afghanistan shortly after Iranian state-run media claimed they had shot down an American drone. That statement referred to an unarmed American reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over Western Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran Says It Will Not Return Alleged US Drone

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images (file photo)(TEHRAN, Iran) -- It’s still not 100 percent clear if the unmanned drone shown and described on Iranian TV last week as being brought down by the Iranian army’s “electronic warfare unit" is indeed the same one the U.S. has said is missing, but Iran announced on Sunday that the aircraft will not be returned.

Iran’s deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami, said the violation of Iran’s airspace by the drone was a, “hostile act” and warned of a bigger response, although he did not elaborate.

Iran’s Press TV reported last week that the drone was knocked out of the sky on Dec. 4 as it was flying over the city of Kashmar, approximately 140 miles from the border with Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have said if that is indeed the drone that went missing, Iran did not shoot it down, nor used electronic technology to knock it out of the sky.  Instead, officials contend the drone malfunctioned.

There is also speculation that the drone crashed and the Iranians created a model to support their claim.

The New York Times has said the drone the U.S. says is missing was part of a surveillance program to keep an eye on Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is US Drone Shown on Iran TV Real?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. officials say they are still trying to determine whether the aircraft shown on Iranian television Thursday was the American stealth drone that went down in Iran last week.

Early Thursday, U.S. officials said, and ABC News reported, that the craft displayed did not appear to be the highly sensitive RQ-170 Sentinel and might be a model, in part because U.S. imagery indicated the Sentinel had not landed intact. Later, however, officials said it was possible that the Iranians had reconstructed the drone for display on television, but that the evidence was "inconclusive."

Pentagon spokesperson Capt. John Kirby said Thursday that U.S. officials were examining the footage aired in Iran for clues.

"I wouldn't characterize it just as military personnel looking," Kirby told reporters. "We've seen the imagery. There are folks that are looking at it."

Kirby could not confirm that the drone shown on Iranian TV was the one the U.S. military admitted it lost, but said that generally speaking, "When U.S. technology falls into the wrong hands, it's always a concern."

For nearly an hour, Iran's Press TV played and replayed footage of two uniformed military men examining the pristine-looking cream-colored frame of what was supposedly the RQ-170.

The Iranian military had claimed it was able to bring down the drone with little damage through a cyber attack as it was flying through Iranian airspace last week. U.S. military officials said the drone was not flying over Iran, but rather in western Afghanistan, and suffered an innocent malfunction before gliding into Iranian airspace. On Thursday U.S. officials said the drone did not land intact.

The Pentagon's Kirby told reporters Monday there was no indication the drone was brought down by "hostile activity of any kind."

U.S. officials told ABC News Tuesday the drone had been on a secret surveillance mission for the Central Intelligence Agency when its operators lost control. The CIA declined to comment both when Iran claimed to have the drone and after video surfaced Thursday. Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported that the drone was designed to automatically destroy sensitive data in the case of a malfunction, but in this case it "failed to do so."

The RQ-170, known as the Beast of Kandahar, is one of America's most advanced unarmed surveillance drones -- so sensitive that the Air Force did not even acknowledge its existence until late 2009. It was reportedly used to keep tabs on the man believed to be Osama bin Laden during the Navy SEAL mission that took out the terror leader in Pakistan in May.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Continues Radio Silence on Drone Held by Iran

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- There’s no indication an unmanned missing U.S. drone was brought down by the Iranians through jamming or cyber attack, a senior military official told ABC News on Monday.

The military is looking at this as strictly a malfunctioning drone.  They do not know what shape the drone is in, but it might be largely intact depending on the glide path.

Pentagon spokesmen George Little and Captain John Kirby told reporters Monday that they couldn’t go much beyond yesterday’s ISAF release about what they could say publicly about the missing U.S. drone Iran claims to possess.  The release acknowledged that an unmanned drone had gone missing over western Afghanistan late last week after drone operators lost control of the aircraft.

Little explained “these are sensitive reconnaissance missions, we don’t talk about those missions as a general rule.”

He and Kirby declined to identify the type of aircraft involved, which is believed to be the bat-winged RQ-170.  “We’re just not going to comment about the particular airframe in this case,” said Kirby.  “Again as George said these are very sensitive reconnaissance missions, and as a rule we don’t talk about the specifics whether it’s air frame, mission intent or exact route.”

However, one thing Kirby was able to say with confidence was that the drone had not been brought down by hostile fire. Kirby added, “As it says in the statement, the controllers lost control and without getting into specific details I think we’re comfortable stating that there’s no indication of hostile activity.”

Little would not provide more specifics as to when the drone went down other than what the ISAF release said about “late last week.”  He did say that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had been informed about the missing drone though he would not specify when.

Has the U.S. asked Iran to hand over the mysterious drone that it refuses to identify?  “No,” said Kirby.

Is the U.S. concerned that it might lose some technology?  Kirby said that generally speaking, “I think we’re always concerned when there’s an aircraft manned or unmanned that we lose particularly in a place where we’re not able to get to it.  But I wouldn’t go into any specifics for any one particular airframe.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran Says It Shot Down Unmanned US Spy Plane

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- The Iranian military shot down an unmanned American “spy plane” along the country’s eastern border with Afghanistan, Iranian English-language Press TV reported, citing an unidentified military official.

“Iran Army’s electronic warfare unit successfully targeted the American-built RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft” -- a secret drone that was built to operate without detection -- and the drone “has been seized with minimum damage,” a source said, according to Press TV.

The source added that “due to the clear border violation, the operational and electronic measures taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces against invading aircraft will not remain limited to Iran’s borders,” according to Press TV.

The report has not been independently confirmed.  The Iranian government has made no official comment.

The Iranians have made similar claims in the past that have turned out to be false.  But in this case, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the U.S.-led command in Afghanistan, released a statement saying that the drone may be a “U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft” that they “lost control of” late last week over western Afghanistan.

“The UAV to which the Iranians are referring may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week.  The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status,” an ISAF statement released Sunday in Kabul said.

The United States will not say what type of drone crashed, but they say it was not shot down, although a U.S. senior military official told ABC News that the claims are being taken seriously.

“We are assuming Iran has something,” the official said.

There are provisions built into drones to protect sensitive technology.  If contact with the drone is lost, that information can be remotely erased, but if this is indeed a stealth drone, pieces of the skin itself could be used to try to duplicate stealth surfaces.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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