Lost and Found?

Officially, there is still an unarmed US reconnaissance airplane missing since last week when US and NATO officials say operators lost control of this remotely piloted aircraft during a mission over western Afghanistan. “We haven’t recovered the drone that we believe is missing,” said Navy Capt. John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, during a Pentagon briefing Thursday. Unofficially, however, US defense and intelligence officials are telling US media outlets that the secret intelligence-gathering aircraft went down in eastern Iran and that the Iranians have indeed recovered it. The claims are that this RPA—allegedly the Lockheed Martin-built stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel—went down due to a malfunction. Conversely, the Iranians are boasting that they brought the aircraft down via a mobile jamming system that disrupted its communications links with its remote controllers. On Thursday, Iranian state television showed off what the Iranians assert is the recovered RQ-170 looking relatively intact, for full propaganda effect. Continue