Iran says it has “succeeded” in copying an American drone it captured in 2011 and will soon take the replicated aircraft on a test flight.
State television in Iran broadcasted images Sunday apparently showing a replicated US RQ-170 Sentinel drone alongside the original one, according to the AFP.
“Our engineers succeeded in breaking the drone’s secrets and copying them,” an officer in the footage reportedly said. “It will soon take a test flight.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was inspecting the aircraft during an exhibition organized by the country’s Revolutionary Guards air wing, said the unmanned drone is “very important for reconnaissance missions,” the AFP reports.
Iran has long claimed it managed to reverse-engineer the RQ-170 Sentinel, seized in December 2011 after it entered Iranian airspace from its eastern border with Afghanistan, and that it’s capable of launching its own production line for the unmanned aircraft.
After initially saying only that a drone had been lost near the Afghan-Iran border, American officials eventually confirmed the Sentinel had been monitoring Iran’s military and nuclear facilities. Washington asked for it back but Iran refused, and instead released photos of Iranian officials studying the aircraft.
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