Inside the Ring: Here come the drones

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The Rainbow-3A is fitted with two AR-1 anti-tank missiles.

China is building 11 bases for drones along its coastline and recently flew drones over the disputed Senkaku Islands. Japan has threatened to shoot down drones that fly over the small islets owned by Tokyo but claimed by China.

FROM KABUL TO TEHRAN?

Iranian state media this week reported that Tehran supplied Russia with a copy of a U.S. military drone, and a U.S. contractor revealed to Inside the Ring that the drone was likely stolen from a U.S. supply convoy in Afghanistan last year.

According to the contractor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the deal between Afghan smugglers and Iran’s Qods Force, a special unit of the Revolutionary Guards, took place in the summer of 2012 in Afghanistan and was worth more than $1 million.

Iran’s state-run Fars News agency reported Monday that the Iranian military supplied Russia with a copy of a U.S. ScanEagle drone that reportedly was captured and disassembled by Iran in 2012.

The ScanEagle is a small drone launched from the ground or by ship launchers that provides video images used in military operations.

Fars said the drone has been reverse engineered and that one of the remotely piloted aircraft was given to Moscow as a “gift.” The transfer was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.

An intelligence report from Afghanistan states that the drone sale between Afghan smugglers and an Iranian Qods force agent was completed in August 2012.

The report was taken from a convoy used to send military supplies to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan and sent by truck in its crate to western Farah Province and then across the border into Iran.

The drone was inspected by the Qods agent, who was identified as “Hashemi,” in July 2012 in Gardez in Kunar Province. He was disappointed that the drone was not larger, the report said.

The deal was arranged by an Iranian identified as “engineer Latif” in Gazni Province. He had the drone shipped to Iran by truck, probably through a crossing point in Nimroz Province where Afghan police are known to cooperate with Iranian smugglers. The Iranian side of the border there is controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which includes the Qods Force.

A Pentagon spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

Guard Corps Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmayeeli was quoted by Fars as saying — after a meeting in Tehran with visiting Russian Air Force Commander Lt. Gene. Viktor Bondarev — that “the drone built by the [Revolutionary Guards] is a symbol of the technical capabilities of the Islamic Iran and today we presented a real model of it as a gift.”

TERROR IN YEMEN

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

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