Iran unveils copied US RQ-170 stealth drone
Iran has unveiled a domestically produced version of a sophisticated US drone it captured back in 2011.
The stealth drone was unveiled in an exhibition at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Forces' Central Command, attended by the Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on May 11, Iran's Press TV reported.
Other Iranian drones, including Shahed 129 and 125, were also on display at the exhibition.
The expo put on display the achievements of the IRGC Aerospace Forces in the design and development of drones, radars and defense systems as well as anti-ship, ballistic and anti-shield missile systems.
The US RQ-170 Sentinel was reverse-engineered by IRGC experts in about two years.
The RQ-170 is an unmanned stealth aircraft designed and developed by the Lockheed Martin Company.
The aircraft was downed with minimal damage by the Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit on December 4, 2011, while flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) from the Afghan border, Iranian media outlets claimed.
Although US officials never confirmed it, Iran says it used its radio electronic warfare skills and vulnerabilities in the Sentinel's GPS receiver to trick it into landing on Iranian territory instead of its designated military base. The claims are considered plausible by many, since the drone did not sustain any visible damage during its alleged crash-landing.
Last year, Iranian officials announced progress on reverse-engineering the captured Sentinel drone, saying that they has completed decoding its software and extracting the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) surveillance data from it.
Iranian media outlets report that Iran has made great achievements in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing essential military equipment and systems in recent years. Tehran established an arms development program during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s to counter the weapons embargo imposed on it by the U.S. and its Western allies.
Since 1992, Iran has manufactured its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, radars, boats, submarines and fighter planes. Iran also unveiled its first domestically-manufactured long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in 2010.