RQ-170 Sentinel

December 4, 2011 by staff 

RQ-170 Sentinel, Iran claimed Sunday it shot down a U.S. stealth drone near the country’s eastern border, but U.S. officials in Afghanistan said the craft could instead be an unmanned reconnaissance plane that veered off course and crashed last week.

The official Iranian news agency quoted a military official who said Tehran had downed an RQ-170 Sentinel, the U.S. Air Force’s stealth drone.

U.S. and NATO officials wouldn’t say what kind of American drone had gone missing. But a U.S. official said there was no indication that the aircraft had been shot down by the Iranians.

American officials believe that after the remote pilots lost control of the aircraft, the drone crashed in an unknown location.

In a statement Sunday afternoon, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s command in Afghanistan said the Iranians may have been referring to an unmanned craft lost while 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,” said the statement released by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted an unnamed military official claiming credit for shooting down the drone.

The Islamic Republic News Agency quoted a military official as saying said Iranian armed forces shot down the plane, which the official identified as an RQ-170.

“It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran’s armed forces,” IRNA quoted the official as saying.

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