U.S. Stealth RQ-170 Sentinel drone
U.S. Stealth RQ-170 Sentinel droneIsrael news photo: US DOD Photo

The downing of an American stealth RQ-170 Sentinel drone last week has caused consternation in the United States, who didn't believe Iran capable of such an electronic or other military attack.

On Thursday, the Islamic Republic
aired footage of the missing drone, which appeared to have suffered only minimal damage.

Both current and former U.S. officials who spoke with the Associated Press under conditions of anonymity confirmed the drone was the Sentinel reported missing last week. Members of think tanks in Washington D.C. , including the Brookings Institute, said the loss could lead to an improvement in the Islamic Republic's ability to camouflage its facilities.

Iran protested Friday to the United Nations over America's "provocative and covert operations," calling the drone's presence in its skies a "blatant and unprovoked air violation" --- one that was "tantamount to an act of hostility."

The stealth drone has been used to provide "persistent surveillance" of Iranian nuclear sites, helping military planners track activities at the sites as well as personnel movements.

The loss of the drone is Iran's gain, especially in light of the equipment and the advanced technology carried by the robotic aerial vehicle.

It is likely that Iranian scientists will closely examine the drone to seek better ways of hiding its secrets from foreign surveillance in future, military analysts said.