U.S. Continues Radio Silence on Drone Held by Iran

Dec 5, 2011 1:03pm

There’s no indication an unmanned missing U.S. drone was brought down by the Iranians through jamming or cyber attack, a senior military official told ABC News today.

The military is looking at this as strictly a malfunctioning drone.  They do not know what shape the drone is in, but it might be largely intact depending on the glide path.

Pentagon spokesmen George Little and Captain John Kirby told reporters today that they couldn’t go much beyond yesterday’s ISAF release about what they could say publicly about the missing U.S. drone Iran claims to possess.  The release acknowledged that an unmanned drone had gone missing over western Afghanistan late last week after drone operators lost control of the aircraft.

Little explained “these are sensitive reconnaissance missions, we don’t’ talk about those missions as a general rule.”

He and Kirby declined to identify the type of aircraft involved, which is believed to be the bat-winged RQ-170.  “We’re just not going to comment about the particular airframe in this case,” said Kirby.  “Again as George said these are very sensitive reconnaissance missions, and as a rule we don’t talk about the specifics whether it’s  air frame ,mission intent or exact route.”

However, one thing Kirby was able to say with confidence was that the drone had not been brought down by hostile fire. “The one thing I can tell you is we don’t have any indications that the UAV, that  we know we no longer have, was brought down by hostile activity of any kind. ”

Kirby added, “As it says in the statement, the controllers lost control and without getting into specific details I think we’re comfortable stating that there’s no indication of hostile activity.”

Little  would not provide more specifics as to when the drone went down other than what the ISAF release said about “late last week.”  He did say that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had been informed about the missing drone though he would not specify when.

Has the U.S. asked Iran to hand over the mysterious drone that it refuses to identify?  “No,” said Kirby.

Is the U.S. concerned that it might lose some technology?  Kirby said that generally speaking, “I think we’re always concerned when there’s an aircraft manned or unmanned that we lose particularly in a place where we’re not able to get to it.  But I wouldn’t’ go into any specifics for any one particular airframe.”

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