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Iran to America: Recount Your Drones, Bro

Here we go again.

Well, if things didn't just get real. A day after claiming it managed to captured a small-fry American spy drone that had been loitering over the Persian Gulf--and a year to the day, in a predictablely Clancy-like twist, after successfully taking down a CIA drone--Iran is telling the US that it should go take extra careful stock of its unmanned aerial fleet.

"We have material evidence to prove that the drone we captured belongs to the U.S.," Ismael Kowsari, the head of the Iranian parliament's defense committee, told the AP . "The U.S. commanders may need to recount their drones."


Kowsari offered zero evidence to re-support claims that Tehran brought down the 4-foot ScanEagle drone after it infiltrated Iranian airspace. No surprises, there. But he did raise the obvious, wagging middle finger, which is that when Tehran spoofed down that elusive CIA RQ-170 Sentinel drone last year the Americans denied the reports, hands-over-ears lalalalalalala, until it straight up starting looking silly to continue refuting what had become bruisingly clear. We could be seeing that slow, pained Western admission playing out all over again.

"The same will happen in the case of ScanEagle," Kowsari went on. "It's not something they can refute."

For its part, the US Navy, known to take full advantage of the ScanEagle's quick-pitch catapult launch feature, is holding its line, albeit somewhat more cautiously, now. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the Navy's 5th Fleet, told reporters yesterday that over the years some of the sailing branch's ScanEagles "have been lost into the water." And yet there's no "record of that occurring most recently."

He could be right. A ScanEagle isn't  typically the go-to pick for sniffing out weapons-grade plutonium. But even if the Boeing-made drone really is ill-suited for that sort of reconnaissance, well, that's almost beside the point, isn't it? Even if it wasn't gazing down on Bushehr or any other Iranian nuclear sites--and if Tehran really isn't lying about all this--the thing can still be mined of its data, which Tehran says is happening right now. And much like the Sentinel gaffe, the thing can also be taken apart and studied, raising the specter of a reverse-engineer Iranian ScanEagle.

No one should count on that entirely. But, hey. With the Americans increasing pressure on Iran's nuclear program by launching more and more spy drones over the Bushehr, get out your tickers.

Top: ScanEagle launch (via)

Reach Brian at @thebanderson