Little said that the Pentagon had not disclosed the incident until today's CNN report because it doesn't talk about classified surveillance mission undertaken by drones. "There is absolutely no precedence for this, so this is the first time that a UAV has been fired upon, to our knowledge, by Iranian aircraft. So I wouldn't draw any parallels between this and past incidents. We routinely do not advertise our classified surveillance missions."
Little downplayed the idea that the White House might have asked the Pentagon to not talk about the incident for political reasons given it occurred so close to the upcoming election. "We don't typically comment on classified surveillance missions," he said. "And I'm not going to get into discussions at the classified level that occurred between this department and the White House. They were informed early on."
An unmanned RQ-170 surveillance drone crashed in Iran last December. At the time Iran claimed that it had been shot down, but U.S. officials said a technical malfunction had brought the aircraft down while conducting a secret surveillance mission over Iran for the CIA.