Iran military downs US spy drone
Sun Dec 4, 2011 2:17PM
An American RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned reconnaissance aircraft (file photo)
A senior Iranian military official says Iran's Army has downed a remote-controlled reconnaissance drone operated by the US military in the eastern part of the country.
The informed source said on Sunday that the Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit successfully targeted the US-built RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft after it crossed into Iranian airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan.
He added that the US reconnaissance drone has been seized with minimum damage.
The RQ-170 is an unmanned stealth aircraft designed and developed by the 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.
The unnamed Iranian military official added 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 Iran's borders."
However, NATO forces say operators lost control of a surveillance drone flying over Afghanistan last week that may be the same one Iran says it has downed.
"The UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] to which the Iranians are referring may be a US unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status," the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
The statement about the UAV was issued in Kabul on Sunday and released to reporters covering an international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany.
The incident comes as the United States has beefed up its military presence in and around the Persian Gulf region in recent months in the wake of a popular uprising in Bahrain.
The US Department of Defense says Washington is closely monitoring developments in Bahrain, which hosts the headquarters of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, where 4,200 US military personnel are based.