Iranian officials have said today that they have begun building a copy of a U.S. drone that was downed by Iranian forces last year.
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, "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."
The general went on to describe what he said were details of the drone's flight history.
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A senior Iranian commander says the country has reverse-engineered an American spy drone captured by Tehran’s armed forces last year and has begun building a copy.
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who is chief of the aerospace division of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, was quoted Sunday by the semi-official Mehr news agency as saying that experts are also recovering data from the U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel captured in December in eastern Iran.
Gen. Hajizadeh and revealed what he said were “codes” gleaned from the unmanned aircraft.
“I am giving you four codes so the Americans understand just how far we have gone in penetrating the drone’s secrets,” General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospatial division, told state television.
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US Senator Joe Lieberman dismissed the claim that a copy was being made as "Iranian bluster" saying, "they're on the defensive because of our economic sanctions against them".
But Gen Hajizadeh said: "Our experts have full understanding of its components and programmes."
He said that Iran had managed to hack the controls of the drone, thus enabling the Iranians to reverse-engineer the aircraft to make its own copy.
US officials have previously asked for the drone to be returned but Iran has refused, saying that the US should instead apologise for invading Iranian air space.
Washington has long said that Iran will find it hard to exploit any data and technology aboard it because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones operating over hostile territory.