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Published April 22 2012

Iran says it's building copy of captured US spy drone, releases what it says is recovered data

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said Sunday that it had reverse-engineered an American spy drone captured by its armed forces last year and has begun building a copy.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the aerospace division of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, related what he said were details of the aircraft's operational history to prove his claim that Tehran's military experts had extracted data from the U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel captured in December in eastern Iran, state television reported Sunday.

Tehran has flaunted the capture of the Sentinel, a top-secret surveillance drone with stealth technology, as a victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.

U.S. officials have acknowledged losing the drone. They have said 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.

Hajizadeh told state televisiontype:italic; 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.