The Drone Wars
Earlier this week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed to have captured a CIA operated UAV operating in Iranian airspace.
Since then, Iran has released video and still footage of the craft, and unnamed sources within the American intelligence community have seemed to indicate that the drone is, in fact, an American UAV.
This incident poses some serious issues for United States, not just in their collection, but in the proliferation of technology the US has used as its strength for decades.
In terms of collection there are obvious diplomatic issues that arise. It puts other countries, including ones the US is currently in talks with a little on edge. It’s hard to convince North Korea you’re not flying an armed drone over them when you’ve just lost one over Iran. Drones, especially the armed type, don’t put people at ease. Ask any member of the Taliban what it’s like to hear the sound of a lawnmower thousands of feet over their head.
Unfortunately for the US government, these concerns over anxious negotiators are secondary to the fact that Iran just got their hands on some decent technology.
Iran had previously mastered the art miniaturization in some forms of weaponry, so this isn’t like handing a Barrett sniper rifle to cave man, but it’s still a giant leap forward for Iran.
Iran’s most notable successes in miniaturization in weaponry had previously come in naval weaponry. Aviation has never really been a strong suit for Iran. Yes, they do have rocket doctors and things, but they don’t have ability as of yet to develop new technology on their own. Much like China in its early stages of development, Iran bases much of their progress on mimicry. For this very reason, capturing a drone of this particular design, could prove incredibly important to Iran’s ambitions in the region and beyond.