The U.S. Navy has responded to claims by the Iranian government that it has captured an unmanned aircraft by saying that all of its drones are accounted for. But they leave open the possibility that it may have been a ScanEagle (similar aircraft pictured) that had been lost previously and retrieved from the ocean by Iran.
The Associated Press reports that there were no details as to time, date, or location of the supposed UAV capture. It may have been in their possession for some time and revealed now for its propaganda value.
Cmdr. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said there have been some ScanEagles lost over the water during the ongoing campaign, but of the current inventory, "The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles operating in the Middle East region. Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized waters and airspace."
A video released by Iranian state television shows two people in military uniforms examining what appears to be an intact ScanEagle UAV.
In late 2011, Iran claimed to have brought down a RQ-170 Sentinel UAV operating in Iranian airspace, which was captured almost intact. The aircraft belonged to the CIA, and the Iranians claimed to have retrieved secret data from the aircraft.