Iran military says copying US drone

Published: April 22, 2012

The US surveillance drone was captured last year in December near the Afghan border. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

DUBAI: Iran’s military has started to build a copy of a US surveillance drone captured last year after breaking the software encryption, Iranian media reported on Sunday.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, said engineers were in the final stages of decoding data from the Sentinel aircraft, which came down in December near the Afghan border, Mehr news agency reported.

Iran said the unmanned aircraft was shot down, but Washington disputes that and says the security systems mean Iran is unlikely to get valuable information from the Lockheed Martin Corp drone.

“The Americans should be aware to what extent we have infiltrated the plane,” Fars news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying. “Our experts have full understanding of its components and programmes.”

Iran’s military regularly announces defence and engineering developments, but some analysts are sceptical as to how reliable those reports are.

US Senator Joe Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services Committee, voiced his own doubts.

“There’s a history here of Iranian bluster, particularly now when they’re on the defensive because of our economic sanctions against them,” Lieberman said in a television interview.

The RQ-170 Sentinel has been widely used since 2010 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It played a role in the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed last year, analysts say.

An Iranian defence official said recently that Tehran has received numerous requests for information on the craft and that China and Russia have shown most interest.

The loss of the plane sparked some concerns that sophisticated technology could fall into the hands of countries developing their own unmanned planes. The main worry centres on the special coatings on the craft’s surface.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • j. von hettlingen
    Apr 22, 2012 - 9:23PM

    Why should Iran bluster about building a copy of the surveillance drone RQ-170 Sentinel, when it doesn’t admit its ambition for building nuclear bombs? Perhaps it’s easier for Iran to exploit the data and technology aboard the shot-down aircraft than to enrich uranium!

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  • TightChuddi
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:54PM

    Yay! Soon Pakistan will have its own drone army. Ummah drones are coming…

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  • Hedgefunder
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:57PM

    Yes ! sure. Another Pakistan in making ! Just look at the state of economy first and wait till the sanctions start biting, than come back with such ridiculous ideas and ventures to develop
    such technology.

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  • Sonya
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:18AM

    This UAV was used in a number of reconnaissance missions in the Middle East, most notably during the commando raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. After the CIA lost control of this surveillance drone over Iran, US officials were confused as what to do – they first chose to send a covert mission to recover the remains and then to keep silent before Tehran announced its military was behind the downing of this spy device. I would therefore believe the Iranians for their track record.

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  • Rafay
    Apr 23, 2012 - 1:32AM

    Why dont pak military shoot a drone and see what it has got.Atleast they will learn how to mount missiles on their own UAVs.Or just build a one like that.

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  • @plarkin
    Apr 23, 2012 - 5:19AM

    In the words of Buddy Holly: “That will be the day”

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