Iran Claims Its Building Drone Copy

April 22, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Captured US RQ-170 drone
A captured U.S. RQ-170 drone is on display next to the Azadi (Freedom) tower on February 11, in Tehran. Iran claims it has reversed engineered the drone, which Washington refutes. (Atta Kenare /AFP/Getty Images)

An Iranian general on Sunday said Iran has reverse engineered a U.S. spy drone that was captured several months ago when it was flying in the country’s airspace.

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said via state-run media that Iran has decrypted the codes on the RQ-170 Sentinel drone.

The drone had “numerous codes, but we obtained all the information on its memory, including protocols, repairs, and flight sorties,” he said, according to Press TV.

Fadavi added that the information included “for instance, the data of a flight after repairs in 2010 or the [drone’s] deployment in the operation against [slain al-Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden in Pakistan.”

The Iranian government announced that it had captured the drone, which was designed and developed by Lockheed Martin. The RQ-170 has been commonly used in the war in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan since 2010, playing a role in the raid last May that left bin Laden dead.

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman said on Sunday that Iran’s claims it reverse engineered the drone were unfounded.

“There’s a history here of Iranian bluster, particularly now when they’re on the defensive because of our economic sanctions against them,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

There have been concerns in the United States that some countries might be able to figure out the chemical composition of the drone’s radar-deflecting outer surface or its technology that allows it to identify subjects from tens of thousands of feet in the air.