US officials privately confirm that a super-secret RQ-170 drone has fallen into Iran's hands. Now they want to know what brought it down and how valuable is the loss.
How did the CIA’s unmanned spy aircraft fall into Iranian hands, especially since photos and videos show it to be largely intact? And how valuable a loss is it?
Pentagon and CIA officials have not publicly acknowledged that the bat-shaped thing shown by Iran is the RQ-170 that went missing earlier this week. But unnamed high-level officials have told several news sources that it appears to be an actual RQ-170.
Meanwhile, analysts differ on the cost of the loss to US intelligence and technology.
“This is the jewel for them now,” robotics expert Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution told the Associated Press. “It depends on what was on the plane on this mission, but one sensor it has carried in the past is an AESA radar. This is a very advanced radar that really is a difference maker for our next generation of planes, not just drones, but also manned ones like F-22s and F-35s.”