Spy drone loss deals blow to US security
Being the country's most prized intelligence
Iran: A US public policy think tank says the RQ-170 is one of
Washington's “most prized intelligence platforms,” adding that Iran's
downing of the reconnaissance drone has dealt a “major blow to US
“There is the risk of compromise to a host of very sensitive
intelligence capabilities possibly including hyperspectral imaging
systems, specialized listening devices, nuclear particle ‘sniffers’ and
communications encryption devices,” said David Goure, Vice President
with the Lexington Institute.
The US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was brought down with minimal
damage by the Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit on Sunday, December
4, 2011, when flying over the northeastern Iran city of Kashmar, some
225 kilometers (140 miles) away from the Afghan border.
Goure added that even if the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) “was
destroyed on impact with the ground, there will undoubtedly be
“Long-range UAVs are programmed to return to base if contact is lost
with their controllers,” Goure added, thus dismissing the US claims that
the drone had simply ‘malfunctioned’ or crashed in Iran.
“They are not supposed to fly around aimlessly or simply land. A
platform as sensitive as the RQ-170 would have had such a ‘carrier
pigeon’ program in its guidance computer and, under normal conditions,
would have flown home.”
On December 6, two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity,
confirmed to CNN that the drone was part of a CIA reconnaissance
mission, involving the US intelligence community stationed in
They claimed the reconnaissance capability of the RQ-170 Sentinel
drone enabled it to gather information from inside Iran by flying along
Afghanistan's border with the Islamic Republic.
The RQ-170 is an unmanned stealth aircraft designed and developed by
the Lockheed Martin Company.
Iran has announced that it intends to carry out reverse engineering
on the aircraft, which is similar in design to a US Air Force B2 stealth
Tehran says that the US drone spy mission was a “hostile act,” adding
that it will lodge a complaint with the United Nations over the
violation of its air sovereignty by the intelligence gathering aircraft.