Iran says is building copy of captured US drone
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran claimed Sunday that it had recovered data from an American spy drone that went down in Iran last year including that it was used to spy on Osama bin Laden's house weeks before he was killed by U.S. forces. Iran also said it was building a copy of the surveillance aircraft.
This type of drone has been used in Afghanistan for years and was used to keep watch on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan but U.S. officials have said little about the history of the particular drone now in Iran's possession. Iran has also been known to exaggerate its military or technological prowess.
Tehran says it brought down the RQ-170 Sentinel, a top-secret surveillance drone with stealth technology, and has flaunted the capture as a victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States. The U.S. says the drone malfunctioned and downplayed any suggestion that Iran could mine the aircraft for sensitive information because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones operating over hostile territory.
The drone went down last December in eastern Iran and was recovered by Iran almost completely intact. After initially saying only that it had lost a drone operating near the Afghan-Iran border, U.S. officials eventually confirmed the drone was monitoring Iran's military and nuclear facilities.
Washington has asked for it back, a request Iran rejected.
The chief of the aerospace division of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, told state television that the captured surveillance drone is a "national asset" for Iran and that he could not reveal full technical details.
But he did provide some samples of the data that he claimed Iranian experts had recovered from the aircraft, state television reported.
"There is almost no part hidden to us in this aircraft. We recovered part of the data that had been erased. There were many codes and characters. But we deciphered them by the grace of God," Hajizadeh said.