Entries in Spy Planes (4)


Panetta Scoffs at Iran Claim It Copied US Spy Drone

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta scoffed at the Iranian government's claim that it had recovered data from a downed U.S. spy drone and made a working copy of the spy craft.

"I don't want to get into the particulars of that program," Panetta told reporters during a flight to Bogota, Colombia Monday, "but I think I can tell you based on my experience that I would seriously question their ability to do what they say they have done."

The U.S. stealth drone, an RQ-170 Sentinel, was on a mission for the CIA when fell into the hands of the Iranian military in December 2011. Iranian authorities, who displayed the craft on television, claimed they had brought the drone down electronically after it entered Iranian airspace, but U.S. officials said it had been flying over Western Afghanistan when its operators lost control.

On Sunday, Iranian officials claimed publicly that they had begun building a copy of the Sentinel, had broken its internal codes and extracted detailed data.

"The Americans should be aware to what extent we have infiltrated the plane," said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. "Our experts have full understanding of its components and programs."

Hajizadeh claimed that the accessed data showed the drone had flown over Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in April 2011, two weeks before the al Qaeda leader's death in a U.S. raid, and that it had been sent back to California twice in 2010 for repairs.

"Had we not accessed the plane's software and hard discs, we wouldn't have been able to achieve these facts," Hajizadeh said.

After the Iranian claims were made public Sunday, a U.S. official told ABC News that reverse engineering the drone would be a difficult feat, one even China would have a difficult time achieving.

According to Iran's Fars News Agency, many countries have asked for technical information about the Sentinel, "but Moscow and Beijing have been most aggressive in their pursuit of details."

The U.S. has asked for the drone to be returned, but Iran has refused.

Copyright 2012 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


Iran Says Spy Planes It Claims to Have Downed Were US Aircraft

File photo. Photo Courtesy - United States Navy(TEHRAN) -- Iran's Revolutionary Guard claims to have in its custody two U.S. spy planes that earlier this month Iran said it had shot down.  Iranian officials say they will display the aircraft.

When the claims were first made, Iran offered no proof, but the country now says it can do so "at an appropriate time."  Iran said the high-tech, pilotless planes had violated its airspace.  At the time, the U.S. Navy said it had no record of any missing planes.

It is possible that if two U.S. aircraft were shot down, Iran would delay talking about it to avoid increasing tension with the United States.

The U.S. and other western countries are in a long-running dispute with Tehran over Iran's nuclear program.  Iran claims it is for energy production, not war, but other countries are skeptical.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran Claims to Have Shot Down Western Spy Planes

Photo Courtesy - USAF(TEHRAN) -- Iran claims that its military has shot down two Western spy planes.  A senior officer of the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Sunday his people shot down two planes over the Persian Gulf but he did not say when it happened.

The official also told state-run media that his forces have shot down several Western aircraft in the past, calling them advanced spy planes that can take pictures, flown by Iran's "enemies."  That could be a reference to the United States, which has, along with the United Nations and other countries, imposed sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities.

Iran insists its nuclear program is used only for peaceful purposes. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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