The deadly game the U.S. and Israel are playing with Iran continued with news that a U.S. advanced technology stealth drone had fallen or been downed (depending on who you talk to) inside Iran. The Iranians claim the vehicle was the U.S.’ most advanced Sentinel stealth drone also known as the Beast of Kandahar. This plane was likely unarmed and had a solely surveillance mission. The U.S. is not only interested in spying on Iran’s nuclear program, it is seeking proof of the extent of the damage in Isfahan to the uranium enrichment plant there from an explosion last week. Since the Beast was used to surveill Osama bin Laden’s compound in the week’s before his assassination, the craft might also be tracking individuals or spying on military/government compounds as well.
The U.S. says the drone had a malfunction and that operators lost contact with it, which caused it to enter into Iranian airspace and crash. The Iranian claim that it shot down the plane seems contradicted by the accompanying claim that there was little damage to the craft that was recovered. Whatever the truth of the story, the Iranians may now have access to a fairly complete version of the most advanced aerial surveillance technology in the U.S. arsenal. As the NY Times notes, negotiations are probably underway as we speak with Russian or Chinese representatives who would be dying to have a crack at it so that they can steal the technology and incorporate it into their own designs. Not to mention they will be able to develop systems to counter the drone and its capabilities. So if Hezbollah can’t now bring the plane down, it may be able to shortly.
Bloggers on the left, some of whom have been taking potshots at me as a dupe of Israeli intelligence for my reporting on Israeli acts of sabotage against Iran and Hezbollah, have claimed that the Iranians may’ve discovered ways to jam ground communications with the drones, thus enabling them to cause them to crash. Hezbollah has also leaked such stories to the Lebanese press attempting to explain an Israeli drone that crashed a few weeks ago in southern Lebanon. The theory might be that if Iran has developed such technology it may’ve shared it with Hezbollah. The only problem is that Hezbollah has not taken credit for downing the Israeli drone and Iran doesn’t say it jammed the U.S. drone, but that it shot it down.
I’m doubtful that Iran shot the Sentinel down for the reason I mentioned above, and as it has made similar claims regularly over the past few years which the U.S. has disputed. If the Iranians have figured out how to fool the drone’s communications systems I still haven’t seen any evidence of it. But I remain open to the possibility if anyone can offer any.
This article appeared at Tikun Olam