Iran is claiming that the country's Revolutionary Guard has successfully copied U.S. drone technology, and it plans to take its recently-crafted unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on a test flight soon.
The UAV, an American Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, was brought down with minimal damage by Iran’s cyberwarfare unit in December 2011. Despite requests from President Obama, Iranian officials refused to return the UAV, filing a complaint in the UN Security Council accusing the U.S. of violating international law by infringing upon Iran’s airspace.
Since taking down the drone, Iran has been attempting to replicate another working version. It claims to have completed a working replica of the UAV, which was unveiled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard during a ceremony in Tehran.
American officials initially indicated that copying the drone would be difficult due to certain security measures taken during the drone’s design, but some estimate that a complete replication is likely.
“They surely have copied it externally,” David Cenciotti, founder of The Aviationist blog, said to Mashable, “Now, copying hte internal systems is a whole another story. Although I don’t feel like I can exclude that a priori.”
According to Fox News, a statement from an official on Iranian state television confirmed that the replication was complete.
“Our engineers succeeded in breaking the drone’s secrets and copying them. It will soon take a test flight,” the officer said.