It appears as though Iran may be in possession of a highly sophisticated U.S. spy drone after all.
Iranian news media reported on Sunday that the country’s military had shot down a U.S. drone, however, according to a senior U.S. official, the drone fell on its own when ground commanders “lost control.”
The U.S. official spoke to NBC News telling the news agency that the drone took a “hard turn” while flying along Afghanistan's border with Iran.
“The spy drone, which has been downed with little damage, was seized by the Iranian armed forces,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the news agency.
Military officials also confirmed to Fox News that the RQ170 Stealth Sentinel drone was lost along Afghanistan’s lengthy border with the country.
Officials told Fox News that the U.S. had “no indication” that the drone was shot down by Iranian military personnel, a contradiction to what was reported by Iranian news agencies.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) released a statement saying that the drone Iran is referring to might have been a military aircraft that forces lost contact with last week.
“The UAV to which the Iranians are referring may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week,” ISFA said.
“The operators of the UAV aircraft lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status,” the agency added.
Iran has yet to provide any proof that they are in possession of the drone, however, officials fear that Iran does indeed have the drone.
If the Iranians have the drone it could be extremely costly and dangerous for the United States and its intelligence community, particularly if the drone, which sustained minimal damages, is reverse engineered.
The semi-official Fars News Agency quoted an Iranian military official saying that the downing of the drone will lead to Iran intensifying its response to U.S. spying operations.
Iran has shot down a number of U.S. drones in the past few years, according to Fars.