U.S. officials have confirmed to Fox News that images aired by Iranian state television do in fact show the secret U.S. drone that went down last week in eastern Iran.
"Yep, that's it," one senior official told Fox News. "And it's intact."
U.S. officials had been expecting the video to appear. The footage, which shows the aircraft intact, confirms the Iranians have custody of the drone but appears to refute Iranian claims that it shot down the RQ-170 drone.
With early knowledge that the aircraft had likely remained intact, the senior U.S. official also told Fox News that President Obama was presented with three separate options for retrieving or destroying the drone. The president ultimately decided not to proceed with any of the plans because it could have been seen as an act of war, the official told Fox News.
Among the options the U.S. considered were sending in a special-ops team to retrieve the drone; sending in a team to blow up the aircraft; and launching an airstrike to destroy it.
NATO initially said the drone may have been one that was flying a mission over western Afghanistan before operators "lost control" of it. Officials have since acknowledged that the drone was part of a joint CIA-military reconnaissance mission.
One official told Fox News on Thursday that the incident is a huge loss and makes the top-secret helicopter tail lost during the Usama bin Laden raid in Pakistan "look like a pittance." The official said there are real fears the Iranians will share this technology with the Russians and the Chinese, in addition to using it themselves.