By Tom Vanden Brook
The unmanned spy plane recently captured by Iran appears to be a fake, according to a former Pentagon official.
The former official, who saw video footage of the drone on display in Iran, said not only is it the wrong color, but also the welds along the wing joints do not appear to conform to the stealth design that helps it avoid radar detection. The official requested anonymity because he is not authorized to release information on the drone matter.
Iran said it managed to gain control of the RQ-170 Sentinel electronically and guide it down as it flew over its airspace.
The former official also questioned why the landing gear was covered up when displayed by the Iranian military. In the footage, the drone’s underside is obscured with banners that read: “We’ll trample America underfoot” and “The U.S. cannot do a damn thing.”
Iran TV reported Wednesday that Iranian experts were still recovering data from the Sentinel, which has been used in stealth missions such as the surveillance operation on the Pakistan compound of Osama bin Laden before he was killed in a U.S. raid in May. Another U.S. drone aircraft, the MQ-9, crashed Tuesday at the Seychelles International Airport on the island of Mahe after developing engine problems, the Associated Press reported.
An Iranian member of parliament criticized former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney, who said President Obama should have ordered an airstrike into Iran to destroy the drone and deny Iranians access to its technology. “The Islamic Republic of Iran… can give a crushing response and cut off hands of anyone who wants to violate its air, navy and land borders,” Kazem Jalali told ISNA, Iran’s state media agency.
Jalali also criticized Obama for asking for the return of the drone after sending it to spy on Iran. “This is an astonishing remark by Obama, who has studied law,” he said.