Iran is protesting what it claims is the unauthorized American use of unmanned aerial vehicles over its territory, saying two have crashed this past summer within its borders. (DR, 08/30/05) The Washington Post, for example, reports that Iran’s UN delegation has been circulating letters of protest and has asked the Security Council to deliver letters from Tehran that call for an end to “unlawful acts” by Washington. The letters supposedly identify one of the drones as a Shadow 200 RQ-7 and another as a Hermes. It is possible that one or more tactical UAVs have accidentally landed in Iran; after all, the US armed forces are flying some 1,000 of these little buggers over nearby Iraq and Afghanistan, as we reported (DR, 10/28/05) a while back. However, they don’t seem terribly suitable for spying on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. They don’t have the legs to get very far inland, where those facilities are (we think) hidden away.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.