American fighter jet shot down Iranian drone over Iraq: Report

Saturday, March 14, 2009

WASHINGTON - An American fighter jet has reportedly shot down an Iranian drone as it was flying over Iraq.

Details of the previously unreported shoot-down, which occurred last month, are still sketchy, but “we do know that American commanders have long accused Tehran of supplying weapons and training to all sorts of Iraqi militant groups, Wired News quoted a military source,” as saying.

Iran has built an array of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. The pneumatically launched Ababil (Swallow) has a wingspan of more than 10 feet, and cruises at 160 knots, according to The Mohajer or Misrad (Migrant) drone is a bit smaller, and slower.

Iran has supplied Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group, with both models. Misrad drones flew reconnaissance missions in both November 2004 and April 2005.

Then, in 2006, during Hezbollah’s war with Israel, the group operated both Misrads and Ababils over Israel’s skies. Israeli fighter jets shot one down.

Since then, Tehran claims to have radically upgraded its unmanned fleet. In 2007, Iran said it built a drone with a range of 420 miles.

In February, Iran’s deputy defense minister claimed its latest UAV could now fly as far as 600 miles-a huge improvement over crude drones like the Misrad, if true.

Iran often exaggerates what its weapons can do. But, if this drone really can stay in the air for that long, the Washington Times notes, “it could soar over every US military installation, diplomatic mission or country of interest in the Middle East.” Including those in Iraq.

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