Iran said today that it had reverse-engineered the U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel captured by IRGC last December and has begun building a copy of the top-secret surveillance drone.
“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,” said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of IRGC aerospace division during a national TV appearance [IRIB, 22 April].
Gen. Hajizadeh said all operations carried out by the drone had been recorded in the memory of the aircraft, including maintenance and testing. He said the drone flew over Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan two weeks before U.S. Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida leader there in May 2011.
“This drone was in California on 16 October, 2010, for maintenance and was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan on 18 November, 2010. It conducted flights there but apparently faced problems and (U.S. experts) were unable to fix it,” Hajizadeh said. “The drone was taken to Los Angeles in December 2010 where sensors of the aircraft underwent testing at an aerospace factory.”
"If we had not achieved access to software and hardware of this aircraft, we would be unable to get these details. Our experts are fully dominant over sections and programs of this plane," Hajizadeh said. "It's not that we can bring down a drone but cannot recover the data."
Source: IRIB (Farsi)/AP (English translation)