Skip to main content

Iran says it built copy of captured U.S. drone

By Brad Lendon, CNN
updated 11:30 AM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seated left, listens to an official during his visit to an aerospace exhibition in Tehran, Iran, on Sunday, May 11. The exhibition revealed an advanced CIA spy drone, at front, captured in 2011 by Iran, and its Iranian-made copy, at back. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seated left, listens to an official during his visit to an aerospace exhibition in Tehran, Iran, on Sunday, May 11. The exhibition revealed an advanced CIA spy drone, at front, captured in 2011 by Iran, and its Iranian-made copy, at back.
HIDE CAPTION
Iran's new spy drone
Iran's new spy drone
Iran's new spy drone
Iran's new spy drone
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • News agency says Iranian electronic warfare unit brought down the drone in 2011
  • That year, U.S. officials said it was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission
  • On Sunday, the U.S. drone was displayed alongside an Iranian copy
  • It was identified as a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel

(CNN) -- Iran on Sunday unveiled what it says is a copy of a U.S. stealth drone that it "commandeered" in 2011.

"The drone was brought down by the Iranian Armed Forces' electronic warfare unit which commandeered the aircraft and safely landed it," the Iranian Tasnim News Agency reported.

Late last year, Iran announced it had "managed to reverse engineer most parts" of the drone, according to the Tasnim report.

The U.S. drone was identified as the RQ-170 Sentinel, made by Lockheed Martin.

Pictures of the aircraft taken during the unveiling ceremony attended by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were posted on Khamenei's official website.

U.S. officials told CNN in December 2011 that the drone was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission that involved both the intelligence community and military personnel stationed in Afghanistan.

Later that month, President Barack Obama asked Iran to return the drone to the U.S.

"We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said.

"No nation welcomes other countries' spy drones in its territory, and no one sends back the spying equipment and its information back to the country of origin," Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's military, said at the time, according to the semiofficial Fars News Agency.

In photos of Sunday's ceremony, the U.S. drone was on display alongside the Iranian copy.

In February 2013, Iran said it had been able to decode surveillance footage from the captured drone and displayed it on YouTube.

Iranian company wants to send toy drone to Obama

Iran's newest warplane something from 'GI Joe'

Why is Iran building giant mock-up of U.S. aircraft carrier?

Iran unveils squadrons of flying boats

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT