The Pentagon said Monday there is no indication that a US drone lost in Iranian territory was shot down, contradicting Tehran’s claims.
Iranian media said late Sunday that an RQ-170 unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down after making an incursion into Iran’s eastern airspace.
The RQ-170 Sentinel is a high-altitude stealth drone made by Lockheed Martin whose existence was revealed in 2009 by specialized reviews and later confirmed by the US Air Force in 2010.
But Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said “we don’t have any indication that the UAV that we know we no longer have was brought down by hostile activity of any kind.”
Shortly after the Iranian reports emerged, the NATO-led military force in Afghanistan said the drone reportedly shot down by Iran “may” belong to the United States and had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan.
The Pentagon declined to confirm what type of drone was involved or its current status.
“These are sensitive reconnaissance missions and we don’t talk about those missions,” spokesman George Little said.
The same model of reconnaissance aircraft was reportedly used in the US Navy SEALs operation in May that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
Pointing to the possibility that Iran may try to retrieve the aircraft’s technology, Kirby acknowledged that “we’re always concerned when there’s an aircraft, whether it’s manned or unmanned, that we lose, particularly in a place where we’re not able to get to it.”