Iran probably did scoop up one of America’s stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel spy drones after the bat-winged aircraft crashed near the Iran-Afghanistan border last week. Multiple news outlets have cited anonymous U.S. government sources confirming Tehran’s claims that it’s in possession of the radar-evading Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
What’s still uncertain is exactly why the drone went down, what it was doing in or near Iranian airspace and who was operating it. The Iranians claim they captured the RQ-170 “with little damage” after an electronic-warfare unit jammed its control signal, but it’s possible the RQ-170 is mostly autonomous and doesn’t even have a control signal.
Escalating tension over Iran’s alleged nuclear-weapons program could explain the stealthy ‘bot’s presence over the border, but less clear is who programmed the drone’s mission. We know the U.S. Air Force operates the hush-hush RQ-170s — the flying branch has admitted as much. But sources told ABC News that the crashed Sentinel was a CIA asset.