Iran Gives Russia Copy of Downed U.S. Drone

Given as gift to Russian military leader

ScanEagle unmanned aircraft flying over the airport in Arlington, Ore. / AP
October 21, 2013

The Iranian military has given the Russian army a copy of a downed U.S. drone that was captured and disassembled by Iranian authorities in 2012, Iran’s state-run media reported on Monday.

Iran is believed to have knocked down and captured a sophisticated U.S.-built ScanEagle drone in 2012. Tehran claims to have reverse-engineered the drone and has now reportedly provided one of them to the Russian military as a "gift," according to the state-run Fars News Agency.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also provided the Russian army with a "video showing how Iran monitors the trans-regional countries' vessels and equipment in the Persian Gulf," according to the report.

Iran claims to have captured several U.S. drones patrolling the region and vowed last year to build a domestic reproduction.

"The drone built by the IRGC is a symbol of the technical capabilities of the Islamic Iran and today we presented a real model of it as a gift to (Russian Air Force Commander) Lieutenant General Viktor Bondarev and the Russian people," IRGC Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmayeeli was quoted as saying after a meeting with Bondarev in Tehran.

Esmayeeli, who serves as commander of Iran’s Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base, said that he also gave the Russians a video copy of the "IRGC's monitoring of the trans-regional states' warships and equipment in the Persian Gulf," according to the report.

The ScanEagle drone that Iran claims to have replicated was originally built by Boeing and used by the U.S. military and intelligence.

Iran first claimed in February that it had begun to domestically produce its own version of the ScanEagle drone.

The IRGC has put great emphasis on Iran’s drone capabilities in recent years as it seeks to combat Western forces stationed in the region.

The "ScanEagle had been in our possession before and we have even copied it in production," a senior Iranian military leader was quoted as saying late last year.

Russia’s Bondarev arrived in Iran over the weekend for a four-day visit, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV. Iranian Air Force Commander, Brig. Gen. Hassan Shah-Safi, reportedly invited Bondarev.

Bondarev was scheduled to hold talks with "senior Iranian military officials" and was quoted as celebrating "the capabilities of the IRGC" and praising its "great achievements," according to Press TV.

Russia and Iran signed a security cooperation agreement in January and the two countries have worked closely with one another on both military and economic issues.

Russian leader Vladamir Putin traveled to Iran in September to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani.

The two countries have also worked closely to prevent a Western military strike against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.