Haven't seen much about this in the Western media, but the Eastern press is reporting that Iran claims to have shot down a US drone recently. Here's the Chinese version,
TEHRAN, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) — Iranian troops have shot down a U.S. pilotless spy plane recently, an Iranian lawmaker announced on Tuesday as the Islamic Republic was facing increasing military pressure from its arch rival — the United States.
The aircraft was brought down when it was trying to cross the borders “during the last few days,” Seyed Nezam Mola Hoveizeh, a member of the parliament, was quoted by the local Fars News Agency as saying.
The lawmaker gave no exact date of the shooting-down or any other details about the incident, but he said that “the United States sent such spy drones to the region every now and then.”
The vagueness as to the date is suspicious, as is the lack of detail as to location. Is the US flying spy drones over Iran? Or armed Predators? And if so, isn't that a little provocative? Then again, the whole thing may be Iranian disinformation. It probably sounds good to the voters in Tehran…
It may be true. I imagine RPVs are flying closer to the border than before, if not crossing it. And it’s not that difficult to shoot one down. They fly slow. They fly close to the ground (so as to get a good look at it). They have no defenses.
I have no information on the production version, but one of the design goals of the DARPA Predator prototype was cheapness. The intent was to accept its vulnerability and be able to shrug off losses: no pilot to be captured or killed and a hardware writeoff that was, in the context of military hardware generally, trivial.
As RPVs come into greater use as production continues to ramp up, you’ll see many more such claims.
Given that the reason we have drones flying along the border with Iran is that Iran has been supplying munitions to the insurgency, (They’re not using *improvised* explosive devices anymore, they’re using mines fresh from Iranian factories.) it’s a little too late for them to be worrying about being provocative. We’ve been ignoring their provocations for so long it could be considered a matter of bad faith to suddenly notice them now.
That seems kind of rude of them. Almost as if they’re hiding something.
Brett. Where is your evidence that insurgents in Iraq have switched from IEDs to “mines fresh from Iranian factories”? And, since the drone shoot-down story is most likely Iranian disinformation in the first place, any speculation as to what the aircraft which didn’t actually exist was doing at the imaginary time would be kind of pointless.
Jim. It’s a misconception that Predator drones fly close to the ground. They normally operate well above the threat envelope of AAA. You’re right that they are slower than watching paint dry though.
I read it in the newspaper. Admittedly, it hasn’t gotten a lot of press. I suspect that’s because the administration in fact does NOT want to go to war with Iran at this time, and so is playing down any provocations they commit.
I haven’t seen anything about mines replacing IEDs in Iraq. After the fiasco they had during the first year of the war with giving bad info to the families, DoD has been pretty good about revealing the actual cause of death and there haven’t been any announcements about dead or wounded from mines while IEDs remain frequent (although small arms and mortars seem to be an increasing proportion of the problem). The only recent US casualty from a mine I’ve heard about was in Afghanistan. (I don’t know the country of origin of that mine).
Here ya go:
Had to laugh at this: “Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs”; Maybe that’s why you’re reading about people being killed by “IED”s; The media don’t understand that it means *improvised* explosive devices, and are just reporting all bomb deaths as being by “IED”s, regardless of what was actually used.
I see where part of the confusion arose. The authors didn’t quantify the materials so it isn’t immediately obvious that their sources are talking about a few isolated finds rather than a flood. That’s plenty to show that Iran is indeed supporting insurgents in Iraq (just as we’re supporting insurgents in Iran) but obscures the plain fact that the vast majority of weapons used by the insurgents come from (in, as near as I can tell, descending order) pre-2003 Iraqi stockpiles, Iraqi government weapons that get to the insurgency through sympathetic Iraqi officials and from defecting soldiers/policemen, and weapons captured from coalition and Iraqi forces.
There is nothing in the article about mines and I think your speculation that the US military sources said IEDs when they meant mines is way off base. CENTCOM has a strict definition of IED and a military mine doesn’t fit that category. The “advanced IEDs” line appears to me to be a misunderstanding by the authors. I think it was probably something along the lines of military personnel saying that Iran was helping the insurgents with IEDs and they jumped to the conclusion that they were providing the IEDs themselves. IEDs don’t lend themselves to long distance smuggling and everything I’ve seen elsewhere indicates that Iran may have been providing some IED components (advanced triggers and, in at least one case, some military grade explosives) and instruction on how to better construct and place them.
All of this matters because better patrolling the border with Iran will not significantly affect the insurgency (although it could cause an incremental degredation among the groups that most strongly support the current Iraqi government, giving the original Sunni insurgents even more of a free hand). And taking forces from other areas to beef up the border just causes increased problems in the vacated areas, as we saw last year when British forces were redeployed to the Iranian border. They found no widespread smuggling and, meanwhile, insurgent groups were openly holding victory parades in the streets and looting their former bases. Strikes against Iran itself are even more of a problem since that would just radicalize even more Iraqi Shiites and increase the insurgency.
“and I think your speculation that the US military sources said IEDs when they meant mines is way off base. “
Would be if I’d made such a suggestion; If you’ll read again, you’ll see that I suggested that the media are using “IEDs” as a shorthand for any explosives, without realizing that the “I” stands for “Improvised”. Wouldn’t be the first time they screwed up that way, in my experience.
I’ll make this my last on this topic. The bottom line is that the only report you referenced doesn’t say a thing about mines fresh from Iranian factories. CENTCOM hasn’t noticed IEDs in Iraq being replaced by Iranian mines. The media hasn’t talked about Iranian mines in Iraq. There have been mention in the past of pre-2003 production Iraqi mines used in attacks as well as insurgent-produced mines (IEDs) and even reports that Iranian intelligence provided expertise in production of IEDs but nothing at all about new-production Iranian mines in Iraq. If you don’t trust the media to get things right (understandable), just look at the official CENTCOM news releases which are full of references to IEDs but don’t mention any factory-produced mines (except possibly the one in Afghanistan I mentioned earlier). At this point there is exactly as much evidence that IEDs in Iraq are being replaced by “mines fresh from Iranian factories” as there is that the insurgents have replaced IEDs with alien technology. The only cause which is advanced by groundless claims that Iranian factories are producing the weapons which are killing most of our soldiers in Iraq is an attempt to incite conflict with Iran, which would get even more of our soldiers killed to no good purpose. Please stop.