UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Iran Won’t Return Downed Drone

December 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Finders Keepers

Not only is Iran refusing a U.S. request to return a downed unmanned spy plane, the Islamic Republic is demanding an apology from Washington for violating its airspace.

Photo: Islamic Republic News Agency

On Monday (Dec. 12) President Obama told reporters the U.S. had asked for the drone to be returned – as if. But it took only a day for officials in Tehran to say “نه” (No.) In fact, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi was reported by Iranian media as saying the drone will remain in Iran “as part of its assets,” the New York Times reports.

Iran first announced that it had shot down the aircraft on Dec. 4, 140 miles inside its territory and identified it as an R-170 Sentinel, one of the newest and most secretive of U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Tehran later changed its story, saying it had brought the high-flying aircraft – not by missile strike or gunfire – but by hacking into the UAV’s control systems and forcing it to land. Iran broadcast video of what it said was a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

In video and photographs made publuic last week, Tehran showed its captured prize although drapery covered the drone’s landing gear, so it was hard to tell if it was an actual RQ-170 or some sort of mockup created for publicity and propaganda purposes, as some observers claimed.

Meanwhile, Iran, still furious about the drone – said to have been flown out of Afghanistan to spy on Iranian nuclear weapons developments – is demanding an apology from Washington, saying that must happen before Tehran even considers giving the drone back.

Iran is now claiming it is in the final stages of deciphering the drone’s top secret radar-evading technology. According to news reports, Iranian officials say they are nearing completion of reverse engineering the unmanned aircraft to unlock its secret stealth technology. Iranian news organizations say Russian and Chinese officials have asked to inspect it.

However, the folks over at Aviation Week say the information Iran can glean from the downed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is minimal.

In video and photographs made public last week, Tehran showed its captured prize although drapery covered the drone’s landing gear, so it was hard to tell if it was an actual RQ-170 or some sort of mockup created for publicity and propaganda purposes, as some observers claimed.

Meanwhile, Tehran is complaining loudly about the violation of its airspace by a U.S. drone. The Afghan ambassador to Iran was summoned to the foreign ministry to hear complaints about Afghanistan’s part in the incident. The drone is believed to have been operated by the CIA out of an airbase in Afghanistan.  Iran also says it is going to the United Nations to complain about the incident.

Reports by the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press indicate the U.S. was considering a covert strike to destroy the drone and its high tech equipment.

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Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Aircraft, National Security and Defense, Unmanned Aircraft, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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