What secrets can Iran learn from intercepted US drone?
A missing US drone may indeed be in Iranian hands, experts say. Just studying its futuristic wedge shape could prove helpful for those trying to exploit US military technology.
As Iranian officials bragged Sunday that they had taken down a US spy drone equipped with top secret stealth technology, defense analysts in Washington began scrambling to assess just how harmful such a scenario would be for US national security.Skip to next paragraph
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In the first phase of damage control, Pentagon officials were quick to deny Iran’s claim. “We have no indication that [the drone] was brought down by hostile fire,” one senior US official assured reporters.
But despite the semantics – perhaps it crashed rather than being shot down, for example – it seems quite possible that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) may indeed be in Iranian hands, analysts say.
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“The UAV 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,” NATO officials in Afghanistan said in a statement Sunday.
This particular UAV is more sophisticated than the Predator or Reaper drones that regularly patrol the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan, streaming video and executing strikes on insurgent hideouts.
Nicknamed the “Beast of Kandahar,” the unarmed RQ-170 is manufactured by Lockheed Martin and was reportedly used in the surveillance of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan before the US SEAL Team 6 raid on his compound.
What does Iran stand to learn from the intercepted drone?
The US military keeps a close hold on the technological feats and intelligence-gathering capacities of these drones, but what is clear is that “any stealth technology is remarkably sophisticated in design,” notes Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.