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Media Watch | IRGC Displays Downed American Drone

08 Dec 2011 21:05Comments

[ media watch ] On Sunday, Iran said that it had shot down a U.S. stealth drone near the country's eastern border. American officials disputed the story.

"[T]here is absolutely no indication up to this point that the drone was shot down," an unnamed official told VOA. The denial was carried by the new "Virtual U.S. Embassy in Iran," a website launched to offer Iranians "another perspective and another source of information."

U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal that the craft could have been "an unmanned reconnaissance plane that veered off course [in Afghanistan] and crashed last week," perhaps due to "a mechanical failure."

But today The New York Times noted that "the stealth technology of the RQ-170 -- which greatly reduces the chances that the drone can be detected by radar -- had little use in western Afghanistan, because the Taliban have no radar to detect flights."

The report also said,

The stealth C.I.A. drone that crashed deep inside Iranian territory last week was part of a stepped-up surveillance program that has frequently sent the United States' most hard-to-detect drone into the country to map suspected nuclear sites. [...]

Until this week, the high-altitude flights from bases in Afghanistan were among the most secret of many intelligence-collection efforts against Iran, and American officials refuse to discuss it. But the crash of the vehicle, which Iranian officials said occurred more than 140 miles from the border with Afghanistan, blew the program's cover.

Yesterday, the Journal reported that U.S. officials considered conducting a covert mission inside Iran to retrieve or destroy the "crashed" stealth drone but decided against the risk, afraid it might provoke "a more explosive clash with Tehran."

As noted by a news roundup by Ali Alfoneh of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Fars News Agency released some technical specifications of the RQ-170 drone, stressing that the intelligence gathered by it did not self-destruct.

Iran has also said that Russian and Chinese experts have asked for access to the drone.

Copyright © 2011

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