(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
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN
Euan McKirdy and Natalie L. Gallón, CNN