ALEPPO, Sy. – United States special operations forces have successfully recovered an unmanned aerial drone that was believed to be shot down by Russian-backed forces over northern Syria last week, Pentagon spokesperson Admiral John Kirby said during a press briefing in Washington on Monday.
Defense officials declined to specify whether or not the drone was armed but described it as an “Air Force reconnaissance drone.” However, multiple eye witnesses, including two members of the International Committee of the Red Cross who witnessed the crash, told the Associated Press that they believed the drone was likely privately owned and stated that it bore a solid black Google logo on its upper fuselage.
“We thought at first it was a military drone,” Martin Nilsen, a monitoring consultant with the Red Cross, told the AP. Nilsen and his team were on their way to a conference when they caught sight of the drone just moments before it crashed near the Aleppo Railway Station. “As we approached it, the first thing I noticed was that it had been utilizing some sort of cloaking device,” Nilsen said. “Because of the crash, it seemed to be malfunctioning but there were sporadic flickers where one second you would see the craft and the next second you wouldn’t.”
Cloaking devices, which render an individual or an object invisible to the naked eye, have been, until now, strictly a theoretical concept. “The most advanced stealth technology available today belongs to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,” said Dr. Norman Benning, a contributing writer for Popular Mechanics magazine. “Cloaking and invisibility devices are the stuff of science fiction; they aren’t yet a reality and likely wont be in our lifetime.”
Despite video footage of the downed Google drone, which has been provided to the Associated Press and other news agencies by Nilsen and his team, the U.S. Department of Defense maintains that the aircraft was, in fact, an Air Force reconnaissance drone “tasked with mapping the city of Aleppo.” Google, for its part, has not commented on the incident.