(DEBKAfile) — US Air Force spokesmen confirmed this week that the hitherto secret unmanned, high-altitude stealth jet, the “Beast of Kandahar,” was present at the big US air base of Bagram, in Afghanistan. Photos of the Beast on the Bagram tarmac – outside its regular base at Kandahar near the Iranian and Pakistani borders – appeared in various Internet sites this week.
Designated RQ-170 Sentinel, it is the first jet drone ever developed for military use. According to DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources, Washington had a reason for letting the Beast surface at this time in the form of a published photograph and a note about its ability to fly over the borders of Iran, China, India and Pakistan for collecting “useful data about missile tests, telemetry, signals and multi-spectral intelligence.”
The disclosure came on the heels of Iran’s big air defense exercise for guarding its nuclear sites which ended in the third week of November; it appears to be a message to Tehran that all its war games, especially in intelligence and electronic warfare, were pointless since its skies are wide open to American drone activity against which Iran has no recourse.