According to an NBC report, the unmanned drone veered off course, headed deep into Iran and crashed after it eventually ran out of fuel.
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US officials maintain that the drone was not shot down, as boasted by Tehran's state television.
The nature of the drone’s mission was secret and according to the report, it is still unclear whether it was flying in Iranian or Afghan airspace. US officials did confirm that the drone was an RQ-170 secret stealth UAV.
"The UAV to which the Iranians are referring may be a US unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status," an International Security Assistance Force statement said.
The CIA is said to be somewhat concerned that the Iranians would be able to gain access to the highly sensitive technology used in the drone's cameras and sensors, and possibly its stealth technology.
Iranian media reported that "the spy drone, which has been downed with little damage, was seized by the Iranian armed forces."
Still, experts quoted by the Washington Post believe that even if the Iranians were able to salvage the drone's wreckage, the altitude from which it plummeted to the ground would have left very little of it intact.
Yitzhak Benhorin in Washington and Reuters contributed to this report
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