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Crashed drone was looking for nuke sites

Dec. 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. officials told CNN the U.S. drone that crashed in Iran last week was on a surveillance mission to seek out suspected nuclear sites.

The unnamed military officials said the Afghan government did not know the drone had used its territory to spy on Iran, and the CIA did not tell the U.S. Defense Department of the drone's mission, CNN reported.

The RQ-170 Sentinel is one of the most sophisticated U.S. drones and flies at up to 50,000 feet. CNN said it is designed to evade sophisticated air defense, and a former intelligence official poured cold water on Iranian claims it had been brought down by electronic counter-measures.

"It simply fell into their laps" after satellite communication was lost, the official said.

Moreover, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said Iran had nothing to do with bringing down the aircraft.

CNN said the former intelligence official cast doubt on the value of the drone to the Iranians. The sensors on the underbelly of the drone would have been badly damaged, he said, and coolant could have damaged the main computer.

Earlier, a former Pentagon official said the unmanned U.S. spy plane appears to be a fake.

The former official said the drone shown on display in Iran in video footage is not only the wrong color, but has welds along the wing joints that do not appear to conform to the stealth design intended to allow such drones to avoid radar detection, USA Today reported Thursday.

The official asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to release information on the matter.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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