Iran's military has recovered a super-secret American stealth drone after the unmanned vehicle flew out of control and crashed inside Iran, NBC News reported Monday, citing a senior U.S. official.
According to the official, the RQ-170 drone was flying inside Afghanistan along the Iranian border, when ground commanders "lost control" of the aircraft. It took a "hard turn" into Iran and ultimately crashed, the source said.
Iranian media reported on Sunday that their country's military had shot down a U.S. reconnaissance drone in eastern Iran, but a U.S. official said there was no indication the aircraft had been shot down.
Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel (aka Beast of Kandahar)
RQ-170 Sentinels have been deployed to Afghanistan, where one was sighted at Kandahar International Airport in late 2007. This sighting, and the Sentinel's secret status at the time, led Bill Sweetman to dub it the "Beast of Kandahar". The UAV being deployed to Afghanistan, despite the Taliban having no radar, has led to speculation that the aircraft is being used to spy on Pakistan or Iran.
On the night of 1/2 May 2011 at least one RQ-170 monitored the area while elements of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group launched an assault on the compound which resulted in bin Laden's death.
There have been a number of reports, which the New York Times describes as "unconfirmed", that RQ-170s have operated over Iran during 2011 to spy on the country's missile and nuclear programs.