'Iran begins to construct copy of US drone'

Three Iran officials say that Iran's construction of new drone, based on data decoded, extracted from downed US spy plane.

Drone (illustrative) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Drone (illustrative)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran has started to construct a duplicate of the US-manufactured unmanned aerial vehicle Tehran claims it downed last year when it was spotted flying over Iranian territory, Iranian news agency Mehr reported Sunday, citing a Revolutionary Guards commander.
Iran's construction of the new drone, announced by Revolutionary Guards Commander Brigadier Amirali Hajizadeh to commemorate the founding of the Revolutionary Guards, is based on data extracted from the downed spy plane, which the Iranian military claims it was able to ground without causing substantial damage to the aircraft.
Hajizadeh also discussed Iran's successful decoding of the memory of the US's RQ -170 Sentinel, according to an Iranian News Agency (IRNA) report on Sunday. The two commanders added that Iran repaired any minor damage that had been caused to the drone.
The RQ-170 Sentinel has been widely used since 2010 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It played a role in the operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed last year, analysts say.
Iran has repeatedly displayed images of the American stealth plane through Iranian media, attempting to prove it skillfully captured the drone. The UAV is 5.4 meters in length, and has a wingspan of 26 meters, Mehr reported. The aircraft is able to avoid detection by radar systems through "special materials that compose its exterior," according to the report.
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Iran's downing of the American drone was an embarrassment for the Obama administration, which subsequently asked Iran to return the plane.
An Iranian defense official said recently that Tehran has received numerous requests for information on the craft and that China and Russia have shown most interest.
Iran reasserts claims over Persian Gulf islands
Hajizadeh also told IRNA that the three islands of Abu Musa, Great and Lesser Tunb are "inalienable" parts of Iran and claims of certain Arab heads of states in this concern are "baseless."
Iran and the United Arab Emirates have recently exchanged public jabs over rights to the islands which technically remain in dispute, but practically are already under Iranian control.
Navy Commander Fadavi said Iran does not merely supervise the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, but is the dominant power in the area, according to IRNA.
Reuters contributed to this report