By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
Operators of a U.S. drone lost flight control of it along Afghanistan's western border with Iran, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the incident. The crew operating the unmanned drone reported a loss of flight control just before the drone went down. U.S. officials are aware of reports out of Iran that they shot down a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel and believe this may be the drone the Iranians are talking about, according to this U.S. official. However, the U.S. official said the U.S. government has not confirmed that Iran shot it down, although it may have gone down over Iranian territory.
The RQ-170 Sentinel is a stealth drone developed for the Air Force to help provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Although the Sentinel was developed for the Air Force, the U.S. official declined to confirm whether it was the U.S. military or the U.S. intelligence community operating the drone at the time of the incident.
The official said the drone’s mission was to fly over Afghanistan. U.S. officials over the years have been adamant that U.S. assets do not fly over Iranian air space.