The Associated Press reports: Iran claims it has reverse-engineered a US spy drone captured by its armed forces last year and has begun building a copy.
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the aerospace division of the Revolutionary Guards, related what he said were details of the aircraft’s operational history to prove his claim that Tehran’s military experts had extracted data from the US RQ-170 Sentinel captured in December in eastern Iran, state television reported .
Tehran has flaunted the capture of the Sentinel, a top-secret surveillance drone with stealth technology, as a victory for Iran and a defeat for the US in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.
US officials have acknowledged losing the drone. They have said Iran will find it hard to exploit any data and technology aboard it because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones operating over hostile territory.
Hajizadeh told state television that the captured surveillance drone was a “national asset” for Iran and said he could not reveal full technical details. But he did provide some samples of the data that he claimed Iranian experts had recovered.
“This drone was in California in October 2010 for some technical work and was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan in November 2010. It conducted flights there but apparently faced problems and [US experts] were unable to fix it,” he said.
Hajizadeh said the drone was taken to Los Angeles in December 2010 where sensors of the aircraft underwent testing. He claimed that the drone was in use in Pakistan two weeks before Osama bin Laden was killed by US navy Seals in the country’s north-west.