Did Iran just down a US drone by 'spoofing'? (+video)
Iran claims it captured a US drone in its airspace, which the US denies. If true, Iran may have brought the drone down by jamming signals and reconfiguring its GPS coordinates.
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Latin America Editor
Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.
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Iran claims it captured a United States drone in its airspace over the Persian Gulf, and though the US denies the downing of one of its intelligence-gathering drones, the claim highlights the role unmanned surveillance aircraft have played in the tense clandestine conflict between the US and Iran.
The crux of the tension between Iran and the US, as well as a number of European nations and Israel, is Iran’s suspected development of nuclear weapons [See our recent cover story on why Iran's ayatollah distrusts the US and what that means for nuclear talks and the possibility of war with the West]. Iran claims its nuclear goals are focused on civilian nuclear power, but the tensions around its nuclear program are palpable, and have inspired something of a “covert war” between Iran and the West. The Christian Science Monitor reported last year that “[t]he war has already seen assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, mysterious explosions at Iran’s missile and industrial facilities, and the Stuxnet virus that set back Iran’s nuclear program,” in addition to the targeting of US surveillance drones.
Iranian state television today showed images of a Boeing ScanEagle drone in front of a map of the Persian Gulf, according to the New York Times. In Persian and English the map read “We will trample the U.S. under our feet,” next to an Iranian coat of arms. The Associated Press reports that if Iran’s claims are true, this "would be the third reported incident involving Iran and U.S. drones in the past two years."
Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps naval forces, said that after the drone violated Iranian airspace, his forces “hunted” it down and “forced it to land electronically,” reports the NY Times.