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Iran claims to have produced and deployed UAV based on captured US ScanEagle drone

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ScanEagle production line Iran
ScanEagle production line Iran

The United States Navy and the Obama administration have denied Iran's claim that it captured a ScanEagle surveillance drone in December, 2012, but according to the Fars News Agency, Iran is insistent that it has put clones of the ScanEagle into production. Fars, a news agency thought by Western news groups and observers to have ties to the Iranian government, reports that copies of the ScanEagle have already been put into service by the Iranian military.

Iran claims it has taken down multiple US drones using cyberattacks, a claim the US denies. In 2011, Iran captured a CIA-operated RQ-170 Sentinel, and recently released footage it says was extracted from the drone. The US says that the drone crashed due to a technical malfunction, not electronic warfare from Iran.

"Offensive drones with the missile-launching capability have great deterrent effects."

News of a ScanEagle production line is the latest in a string of announcements from Iran that appear to be designed to give the impression that the country has made advances in military technology. Today, an Iranian lawmaker said that Iran has made significant progress in aerospace technology, and that Iran is "producing 20 types of UAVs inside the country." The lawmaker indicated that the drones are intended to dissuade threatening nations, saying that "offensive drones with the missile-launching capability have great deterrent effects on enemies' threats and aggressions." In recent years the United States has stepped up pressure on Iran, working to impose sanctions on the country regarding a nuclear program that's suspected to have military ambitions, and conducting aerial surveillance within Iran's borders.

Iran's fleet allegedly includes a new "strategic drone" that can fly up to 30,000 feet and for up to 24 hours, which will reportedly be unveiled this year. "God willing, the country's newest hi-tech, long-range drone will be unveiled on May 24th," a deputy defense minister reportedly said on Saturday. But without proof of the drone's capabilities, Iran's vaunted military tech may not actually impress its enemies; skeptics have accused the country of faking several military advances, including a recently-unveiled stealth fighter that aviation onlookers say could be a plastic fake.