Pentagon/Analysts Believe RQ-170 Stealth Drone Malfunctioned, Wasn't Shot Down by Iran
December 7, 2011 12:33 PM
However, a Lexington Institute analyst said that all signs point to the RQ-170 Sentinel as the missing drone
Analysts and Pentagon officials have placed serious doubts on Iran's claims to have shot down a stealthy U.S. aircraft earlier this week, saying that the craft likely experienced mechanical malfunctions instead.
Iran claimed that its military shot down a stealthy unmanned RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance aircraft
which is now in its possession. Iran later said that it used a cyber attack to bring the aircraft down, and that it is "largely intact," but it has not provided any evidence of either claim.
According to Lexington Institute analyst Loren Thompson, there was no evidence that the drone was brought down using physical activity. Thompson added that using cyber warfare to bring down the aircraft was unlikely as well because it is a stealth drone.
"It would be almost impossible for Iran to shoot down an RQ-170 because it is stealthy; therefore, the Iranian air defenses can't see it," said Thompson. "Partly for the same reason, it is exceedingly unlikely that they used a cyber attack to bring down the aircraft."
While the Pentagon may disagree with how the drone was brought down, it's not arguing that an aircraft is indeed missing. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)-Afghanistan, said that he cannot confirm if the missing aircraft is a RQ-170.
However, Thompson said that all signs point to the RQ-170 Sentinel as the missing drone. He added that the Sentinel likely malfunctioned and crashed, and was probably not shot down or attacked in any way by Iran. The fact that the drone was lost indicates that there was likely a software problem.
If this is the case, Iran has a useless weapon on its hand. Many worried that the Iranian military could extract secrets behind U.S. military technologies by possessing the drone, but with hardware or software malfunctions, the aircraft is useless in providing what they're looking for.
Even if the Sentinel is useless at this point, the crash has raised doubts about the use of
unmanned stealth drones
and their abilities.
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