Several days after being humiliated by Iran which either shot down a EQ-170 drone, or worse, hacked into its navigation system and landed it, Obama has decided to double down, and stick the other foot in his mouth. As ABC reports in connection with Obama's handling of this embarrassing predicament, ""We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said at a news conference. Obama said he wouldn't comment further "on intelligence matters that are classified." Great, the only problem is Iran will never return it, as they have already indicated, for the simple reason that it has already been reverse engineered 5 ways from Sunday somewhere deep in the bowels of one of China's unpopulated cities, which just doubles as a very populated military intelligence base. The only good news is that within 6-9 months every American will be able to buy a personal stealth drone for a new low, low price at their friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart. Our only concern is whether FoxConn will be able to handle the supply of both iPads and straight for re-export drones: it would be ironic if this massive military embarrassment ends up as being a catalyst to short Apple.
A senior Iranian military commander, however, said on Iranian television Sunday that not only would Iran not turn over the drone, but warned of a "bigger response" to the "hostile act" of crossing into Iranian airspace.
"No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country," Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps [IRGC] Lt. Commander Gen. Hossein Salami said, according to Iran's Fars News Agency.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said told reporters today that "given Iran's behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply" with Obama's request. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also said he didn't expect Iran to hand over the drone, but told reporters, "I think it's important to make that request."
Several Iranian state-run media reports claim the country plans to "reverse engineer" the RQ-170 Sentinel and "will replicate the captured U.S.-built stealth aircraft in the future." In another report featured on Iranian television, an Iranian lawmaker claimed the country's experts were almost finished extracting data from the drone and would be using some of it to file a lawsuit against the U.S. for its "invasion," according to a report by The Associated Press.
"Military experts are well aware how precious the technological information of this drone is," IRGC Aerospace Forces Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said last week according to local reports. "It can play a key role in Iran's intelligence interactions with the U.S. rivals."
On the reason of the "interception"
According to U.S. officials, the drone was on a classified surveillance mission for the CIA in western Afghanistan when operators lost control due to a malfunction. From there, the drone glided into Iranian airspace before crashing.
The Iranian military initially claimed it had "shot down" the drone, but later said it was able to bring it down with relatively little damage through an electronic attack. Pentagon spokesperson Capt. John Kirby told reporters last week there was no indication the drone was brought down by "hostile activity of any kind."
As for the top secret drone itself...
The Sentinel, an unarmed long-range surveillance drone known as The Beast of Kandahar, was such a closely held secret that the U.S. Air Force did not even acknowledge its existence until late 2009.
Panetta said it was unclear what technological value the drone could still have, depending on its condition.
Here's a guess: the non-technological value may be low but the barter value is enough to where Iran will leverage it to get anything and everything from the Chinese, to whom the technological value will be quite enough.
And as a reminder, here is the Iranian video of the captured drone: