Senior Iranian military officials say the country has successfully reverse-engineered an advanced U.S. spy drone that violated Iranian airspace in 2011, starting producing the UAV.
Commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said the country’s experts have decoded the intelligence gathering system and memory hard discs of the RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone that was downed by Iran in December.
“This plane is seen as a national asset for us and we will not easily disclose our information about it. Yet, I provide four cues to let the Americans know the depth of our penetration into the intelligence systems and devices of this drone,” Hajizadeh said.
He stated that the drone parts had been transferred to California for technical works in October 2010, adding that the drone was later transferred to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in November 2010 for a flight there.
The commander said that the drone had experienced some technical flaws in its Kandahar flight in November, but the U.S. experts failed to resolve the problems at the time.
Hajizadeh added that the RQ-170 was then sent back to an airfield near Los Angeles in December 2010 for tests on its censors and parts and had a number of test flights.
As a fourth cue to prove Iran’s access to the drone’s hidden memory, the commander mentioned that the spy drone’s memory device has revealed that it had flown over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan.
“Had we not accessed the plane’s software and hard discs, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve these facts,” Hajizadeh said, reiterating that Iran’s military experts are in full command of the drone and hold a good knowledge of its parts and programs.