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RQ-170 Sentinel
According to Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency, the Iranian military has shot down a RQ-170 Sentinel, which is the U.S. Air Force's stealth drone

Iran announced that it has shot down a U.S. stealth drone within its borders, but the U.S. believes the craft could be an unmanned reconnaissance plane instead.

According to Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency, the Iranian military has shot down a RQ-170 Sentinel, which is the U.S. Air Force's stealth drone.

The RQ-170 Sentinel, also known as "Beast of Kandahar," is an unmanned drone that was developed by Lockheed Martin and based in Afghanistan. It has an isosceles trapezoid-shaped inlet, which is a common shape for stealthy aircraft. Its main purpose is to carry out secret missions into Pakistan and it is believed that the drone also secretly spies on Iranian military sites. Initially, the U.S. Air Force denied the existence of the drone in order to keep it classified, and it is still unknown how many of them exist.

Iran announced that it had shot down and captured the RQ-170 on Sunday after it had violated the country's airspace near the eastern border, but the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are not so sure. U.S. officials say there is no evidence that the drone had been shot down.

NATO noted that Iran may have instead found an unmanned reconnaissance plane, which was lost while flying over western Afghanistan last week.

"The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status," said NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

The U.S.' doubt regarding Iran's possession of the RQ-170 stems from Iran's previous claims of shooting down drone's with no evidence. Back in January, Tehran said its military shot down drones in the Gulf. Later in July, it claimed to shoot down a drone near Qom. Tehran could not produce evidence of either incident.

It is currently unknown what kind of U.S. drone has disappeared, but if Iran's military really does have the RQ-170 in its possession, it could be problematic for the U.S. since the drone contains its powerful "technological secrets" such as high-tech cameras, listening systems, and coatings/materials that make it challenging to identify.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Tehran may not be able to copy the technology itself, but it could sell the drone to Russia or China for that purpose.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC

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By th3pwn3r on 12/5/2011 12:37:09 PM , Rating: 5
How does the U.S. not know? I'm sure the cameras themselves should have had a live feed going back home to Uncle Sam. I guess if you don't admit to things they never happened.

RE: Uhh...what?
By Dr of crap on 12/5/2011 1:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, like were going to come right out and say -
"Yep, you shot down one of our best drones. PLEASE can we have it back? We'll buy more oil fropm you."

Of course we, the military not you and I, know the story, and you and I are not going to know the real story. It's a military thing. Maybe in a few years you can research it.

RE: Uhh...what?
By nafhan on 12/5/2011 5:20:21 PM , Rating: 2
you and I are not going to know the real story
That's the important thing to understand. You bring up the right conspiracy theories (or even just theories), and you can make any of the PoV's here make sense.

Also, there are clear advantages to having a policy of "neither confirm nor deny".

RE: Uhh...what?
By GulWestfale on 12/5/2011 7:33:21 PM , Rating: 2
several serious news outlets have reported that US officials acknowledged YESTERDAY that they are indeed missing a drone.

if the US could prove (with video or telemetry data) that this was just a 'normal' crash, they would have done so by now, as they usually do when a crash happens.

they chose not to do so this time, which means i'm inclined to believe the iranians.

RE: Uhh...what?
By Solandri on 12/5/2011 8:04:03 PM , Rating: 4
If they had normal video and telemetry from the drone, chances are it wouldn't have been lost. From the amateur UAV videos I've watched, when you lose control of one of them, the first thing to go is the video (it being the highest bandwidth), followed by the telemetry and controls.

Given how much these things cost, they're most likely programmed to enter into a safe loiter state should they ever lose contact with home. So probably what's going on is the USAF is lost contact with the drone, and now they're trying to figure if was downed, malfunctioned and crashed, or is still in the air somewhere loitering in big circles waiting for them to call it home.

RE: Uhh...what?
By ender707 on 12/5/2011 8:34:12 PM , Rating: 4
Even cheap (roughly 200 bucks) remote control airplane equipment used for making hobby-grade UAVs for fun has a feature built in called "Return to home" when signal is lost using GPS.

RE: Uhh...what?
By ekv on 12/6/2011 3:42:07 PM , Rating: 3
Lockheed Martin engineers that just read your post likely said, "no kidding? hmm, that gives me an idea."

RE: Uhh...what?
By Cypherdude1 on 12/5/2011 7:56:27 PM , Rating: 2
If the US lost and Iran really did find an intact stealth RQ-170 Sentinel, it would be one of the biggest technological gains in US history. Only Stalin's spying on Los Alamos National Laboratory

by the Cohens would be bigger.

If the US really did lose a stealth RQ-170 Sentinel, it probably means it was deployed too quickly into the field. If this really did happen, a lot of people need to be fired.

RE: Uhh...what?
By GulWestfale on 12/5/2011 10:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
i think you're taking this whole "stealth" stuff waaaay too seriously. it's not some magical pixie dust, it's just a collection of technologies designed to make a machine harder to detect.

iran receives help from both the russians and the chinese, why wouldn't they be able to down one of these things? why would this be new to them? a gain, yes, but a breakthrough comparable with stealing atomic secrets in the 1940's? please.

RE: Uhh...what?
By Ammohunt on 12/5/2011 10:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
the Sentinel represents technology that is at least 20 years old. Still a loss but without the satellite infrastructure pretty useless to the goat herders in Iran.

RE: Uhh...what?
By ekv on 12/6/2011 3:46:10 PM , Rating: 2
I've always wondered if they have a Mission-Impossible-esque self-destruct mechanism on-board? Just for situations like this.

Others have stated the technology is relatively old, but that's not really the point. The point is that, even the camel jockeys in Pakistan knew what to do with downed American flight gear. I'd bet it takes less than 3 days before the Chinese buy it.

RE: Uhh...what?
By Ammohunt on 12/5/2011 10:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
We do not buy oil from iran...

Bad news...
By MrBlastman on 12/5/2011 2:44:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not so worried that the Iranians will be able to dismantle and build their own stealth drone, but instead worried that by capturing it they will be able to attenuate their search radars to better detect them.

This is the real downside here.

RE: Bad news...
By Yames on 12/5/2011 4:36:20 PM , Rating: 3
I am sure China would be interested in taking possession when Iran is done with it.

RE: Bad news...
By wordsworm on 12/6/2011 7:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
I think whatever the weapon left intact of the drone the ground will have dismantled it into a thousand pieces before either China or Iran get their chance to inspect it.

More Iranian lies
By Chillin1248 on 12/5/2011 3:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
It's quite obvious that the drone in question, if there really was one shot down, is not an RQ-170.

The RQ-170 is autonomous unlike the Reaper and Predator drones. The Iranians said that they jammed the control signal which wouldn't affect the RQ-170 since it has several other guidance methods besides ground based control; including terrain matching, inertial navigation, GPS, etc.

I would match this claim with their F-5 clone that's "superior to the F/A-18" and their "stealth" flying boats.

Joe Schmoe

Incorrect image
By tommuffin on 12/5/2011 3:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
The image used in the article in not an RQ-170. It is a French Dassault AVE test drone.

The image is incorrectly titled on the internet as an 'RQ-170'

Dassault AVE links

Dassault image link

By undummy on 12/5/2011 10:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry guys. It was just me. My new HobbyLobby and TowerHobby model airplanes went out of control. Who would have known that flying RC planes along the border would cause such a panic??? Its not like I was hiking there or anything.

By Hollif50 on 12/6/2011 9:10:21 PM , Rating: 2
You've got to be kidding me! Back when I was in the Army, They'd have an inspection and type up paperwork to have you buy a $4 mess kit spoon right afterward; if it was missing. Surely there must be an Stealth Drone operator somewhere looking fanatically for his lost plane. Maybe the Air Force should round up all their operators, have a formation, and ask em'!!!

By chmilz on 12/5/11, Rating: -1
RE: Lost?
By kingmotley on 12/5/2011 11:34:14 AM , Rating: 3
*IF* it was armed, which it wasn't:
So we should make all aircraft illegal since we've had armed aircraft lose control and crash? I don't see how an unmanned version would require more or less scrutiny.

RE: Lost?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/5/2011 12:33:16 PM , Rating: 2
I honestly have no problem against armed unarmed vehicles, better to keep the soldiers out of harms way.

Besides, it's a war. You're not going to beat the enemy with roses and daffodils.

RE: Lost?
By x10Unit1 on 12/5/2011 3:07:35 PM , Rating: 2
We are in a war with Iran?

Hmmm...I must have missed something on the news.

People that reply, "War on Terror" get -10000 internets

RE: Lost?
By ppardee on 12/5/2011 3:59:31 PM , Rating: 3
War on Terriers.

Just because we haven't declared war on a country and don't have boots on the ground, doesn't mean we aren't in an active conflict.

Iran is preparing for war. They are trying to develop nuclear weapons. They aren't aiming for military dominance over Syria or Pakistan. They're working on technology and techniques to be able to stand toe to toe with the US and the UN.

On the flip side, the US is actively working to make sure this doesn't happen. We are using spies, spy drones and technology to subvert their efforts.

There is paranoia in the both the Iranian government and the US government, both accusing the other of terrorism. If the status quo remains, open war is inevitable.

RE: Lost?
By Skywalker123 on 12/6/2011 6:00:18 AM , Rating: 2
Iran is preparing for war? With who? They, unlike us haven't invaded anyone.

RE: Lost?
By rcc on 12/6/2011 5:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
Really? Tell that to the Greeks, among others.

However, I'll grant you it was a while ago.

Hint, they claim Persian ancestry, not Arab.

RE: Lost?
By Solandri on 12/5/2011 8:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
Iran happens to share borders with both Iraq and Afghanistan. While I'm against sending our aircraft (even drones) into Iran in the current political climate, it's not unreasonable to think that an out-of-control drone operating in Iraq or Afghanistan could have flown/glided into Iranian airspace on its own.

This is the funny thing about people who are anti-military. They think the U.S. military is simultaneously incompetent and supercompetent. They think the military is incapable of accomplishing any task given to it (aside from blowing up mud shacks with million dollar missiles), and yet at the same time they think its equipment and soldiers always operate perfectly. The military is just like you and me. Better funded and perhaps better trained, but they're just as subject to the whims of Murphy as the rest of us.

RE: Lost?
By shiftypy on 12/6/2011 7:35:58 AM , Rating: 2
- US is actively surveying Iran which shot one of the drones down
- US drone lost connection over Afghanistan, wandered over to Iran fell intact and was found and inserted into a story of shooting it down

I think first version is more plausible, but both stories give Iran right to be speak up against US

RE: Lost?
By Ringold on 12/5/2011 10:06:49 PM , Rating: 2
better to keep the soldiers out of harms way.

Devils advocate: When the loss of life is largely removed from the realm of possibility, whats left other then mere dollar signs to put the brakes on a nations appetite for war?

While I don't like it, I feel the trump card to all anti-drone arguments is this: If we don't do it, then someone else will and all advantages thereof will accrue to them. Therefore, we might as well get in early and dominate the field.

By kattanna on 12/5/11, Rating: -1
RE: funny...
By weskurtz0081 on 12/5/2011 12:29:24 PM , Rating: 2
Weren't all F-117's decommissioned?

RE: funny...
By nafhan on 12/5/2011 12:48:06 PM , Rating: 3
That's what "they" want you to think :)

Seriously, though, in this case, I think both sides are equally likely to lie about what happened, and there's not really going to be a good way for you or to I have any idea what actually happened.

RE: funny...
By tommuffin on 12/5/2011 3:52:20 PM , Rating: 2
Some F-117s are still flying on test duties. They have been captured on video.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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