Crashed Drone Could Spill Our Secrets
Officials say it was on a CIA mission
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2011 7:16 AM CST
Updated Dec 6, 2011 7:43 AM CST
In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned US Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

(Newser) – The drone that crashed in Iran this weekend was on a CIA mission, US officials say, and some now fear that it may reveal US secrets to Tehran or its allies, China and Russia. The RQ-170 Sentinel drone—the same type used in the Osama bin Laden raid—features sophisticated stealth and surveillance technology that could be of use to America's rivals, the Los Angeles Times reports. It is believed to have the ability to "listen" to cell phone conversations and "smell" potential underground laboratories from miles above.

"It's bad—they'll have everything. And the Chinese or the Russians will have it, too," says one anonymous US official. Some experts agree that Iran getting its hands on the drone is a fearsome prospect, but others don't. "A lot of information about this aircraft was already known by foreign military intelligence officials," says one defense policy analyst, adding that Iran may not even have much, since the drone likely had a self-destruct mechanism. "That means what the Iranians have is a pile of wreckage—many small and damaged pieces from which they could glean little in the way of technological insights."