US defense chief casts doubt on Iran drone claims

By REUTERS
April 23, 2012 19:48

 
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BOGOTA - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday cast doubt on Iranian military claims that it started building a copy of a US surveillance drone captured last year.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, was quoted saying in Iranian media on Sunday that engineers were in the final stages of decoding data from the Sentinel aircraft, which came down in December near the Afghan border.

"It's obviously a classified program and I don't want to get into the particulars of that program," Panetta told reporters shortly before landing in Colombia. "But I think I can tell you based on my experience that I would seriously question their ability to do what they say they've done."

Iran said the unmanned aircraft was shot down but Washington disputes that and has said in the past that the security systems mean Iran is unlikely to get much valuable data from the Lockheed Martin Corp drone.

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