Special to WorldTribune.com
NICOSIA — Iran has credited its new electronic warfare unit with
downing an advanced U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle.
Officials said the Iranian military’s electronic warfare unit deployed
indigenous systems that intercepted a U.S. Air Force RQ-170 Sentinel UAV on
Dec. 4. They said the Sentinel sustained minor damage and was being examined
by Teheran, Middle East Newsline reported.
Iran has shared U.S. UAV platforms with Russia. In July, the
Iranian military allowed Russian engineers to examine several U.S.-origin UAVs, including one that was intercepted as it flew over the underground nuclear facility of Fordow.
“An advanced RQ-170 unmanned American spy plane was shot down by Iran’s armed forces,” an official said. “It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran’s armed forces.”
Officials said Iran has shot down more than a dozen U.S. military UAVs since 2008. They did not say how many of the interceptions were attributed to the new EW unit.
“The [latest] UAV had been downed with help from the Iranian military’s electronic warfare unit,” Iran’s state-owned Fars news agency said.
The United States has acknowledged that a military UAV went missing. The Defense Department said the UAV, believed operated by the CIA, was sent on a
mission to gather reconnaissance over western Afghanistan.
“The one thing I can tell you is we don’t have any indications that the
UAV, that we know we no longer have, was brought down by hostile activity of
any kind,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Officials said the RQ-170, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, was detected
by the Iranian military despite the UAV’s stealth design. They said the
military would expand the operations of the EW unit to other areas of the
Iranian border with such U.S. allies as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.