Iran Claims ‘Invisible’ Long Range Drones on Indian Ocean Patrols, Tracking U.S. Ships

A model of a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel, captured by Iran in December near the border with Afgha
AP/Vahid Salemi

Iran is equipped with sophisticated, long range intercontinental drones now being used to monitor U.S. shipping in the Indian Ocean, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi claimed on Tuesday.

“We have this type of drone and we will certainly use them if necessary. These drones are being used in the vast region of the Indian Ocean now,” Rear Admiral Khanzadi said in an interview with the Persian-language service of YJC as reported by local FARS newsagency.

Khanzadi claimed Iran’s intercontinental drones are part of its naval forces and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) weaponry, used to monitor shipping in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman as well as the Indian Ocean.

He warned Iran’s “enemies” the Islamic republic’s Iranian naval forces and drones “stay invisible in some other parts,” before adding “The enemy should wait to be surprised from where he can’t see us.”

“We observe all enemy ships, particularly (those of) America, point-by-point from their origin until the moment they enter the region,” Khanzadi said, according to Reuters.

“We have complete images and a large archive of the daily and moment-by-moment traffic of the coalition forces and America.”

Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said Iran had made “major advances in designing and manufacturing different state-of-the-art drones.”

“We are even ahead of the top world powers in the drones sector and we are way ahead of them,” he said.

Neither men offered any evidence to support their claims of superior Iranian drone technology, although in the past the country has been exposed trying to copy U.S. military advances in the area.

Iran claimed in 2014 it had has fully replicated and reverse-engineered a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned spy plane. The UAV was downed in 2011 while it was surveilling Iran’s nuclear and military sites, as Breitbart News reported.

Experts noted copying the external part of the drone would have been the easy part, but successfully replicating the UAV’s systems would have proven to be a much more difficult task.

“They surely have copied it externally. Now, copying the internal systems is a whole another story,” said David Cenciotti, who runs the blog The Aviationist.

The Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel operates exclusively for the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Air Force. Its overall specifications remain classified.

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