Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in an exclusive interview with Fox News, said that the stealth drone campaign along the Iran-Afghanistan border will “absolutely” continue despite the loss of a valuable and sophisticated drone to Iran.
The mysterious loss of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone has revealed not only that the U.S. was spying on Iran, but also that the program was being run from Shindad Air Base in western Afghanistan.
Panetta would not comment directly on what that drone was doing over Iran, but he said the U.S. military has no plans to halt the drone operation out of western Afghanistan.
“Those operations have to be protected in order to do the job and the mission that they’re involved with,” he said.
When asked if he would continue those missions as they have been conducted out of Afghanistan, he responded with one word: “Absolutely.”
Panetta would not speculate about whether the Sentinel drone had been felled by a cyber attack or a high-tech jamming device.
“You can make all kinds of guesses at this point. Obviously there’s nothing that you can rule out and nothing that you can rule in right now,” he said.