A U.S. surveillance drone that went missing last week in western Afghanistan appears to have crashed in Iran, in what may be the first case of such an aircraft ending up in the hands of an adversary, Washington Post reported.
Earlier it was reported, that Iran's Army shot down a remote-controlled reconnaissance drone operated by the US military in the eastern part of the country. Iran Army's electronic warfare unit successfully targeted the American-built RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft after it crossed into Iranian airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan. The RQ-170 is a stealth unmanned aircraft designed and developed by Lockheed Martin Company. The US military and the CIA use the drone to launch missile strikes in Afghanistan and in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region.
On Thursday Iran's supreme leader warned Israel and the United States that Tehran's response will be tough should its archenemies choose a military strike against Iran over the country's controversial nuclear program.
U.S. officials acknowledged Sunday that a drone had been lost near the Iranian border, but they declined to say what kind of aircraft was missing.
The Iranian government has not released any pictures of the recovered aircraft, which they said was downed by defense forces after it flew across the border and into the country's airspace.
The unnamed Iranian military official said that "due to the clear border violation, the operational and electronic measures taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran's Armed Forces against invading aircraft will not remain limited to the Iran's borders."
U.S. officials cast doubt on this and other Iranian assertions. "We have no indication that it was brought down by hostile fire," said a senior Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive surveillance activity.
If an RQ-170 drone crashed in Iran, it would mark a significant setback for the U.S. military. The United States has lost less-sophisticated unmanned aircraft in recent years over Iran, but a nearly intact RQ-170 could offer a potential windfall of useful intelligence for the Iranians and their allies.
The aircraft has special coatings and a batwing-like shape that is designed to evade detection by enemy radar. The aircraft could help the Iranians better understand the vulnerabilities of U.S. stealth technology and provide them with clues on how to spot other aircraft, U.S. officials said.
The U.S. military released a short statement later Sunday on the missing drone. "The [unmanned aerial vehicle] to which the Iranians are referring may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week," it said. "The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status."
Edited by: S. Isayev | original viewed here