Tehran boasts it is building a copy of crashed US spy drone

Washington expresses doubts as Iranian military claims it has cracked secret codes

Iran has boasted a major propaganda victory against the United States, saying that it has unscrambled the codes of an American spy drone that came down over Iranian territory last year, and has started to make a copy of it.

Iranian military officials claimed yesterday to have reverse-engineered – or duplicated – the drone, a bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel deployed in some of America's most sensitive surveillance operations worldwide, a claim that will prove embarrassing to the US intelligence establishment. The drone, equipped with stealth technology that makes it virtually undetectable on radar, came down over Iran last December, but US officials expressed scepticism at the time that the Iranians would succeed in obtaining anything of technological value from it.

However, Iran has presented selected details of the unmanned drone's operational history as proof that its engineers had been able to unlock the data. "I am giving you four codes so the Americans understand just how far we have got in penetrating the drone's secrets," General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior figure in Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, told state television. He revealed that the craft had been in use over Pakistan shortly before the US attack on Osama bin Laden's compound in the northwest that killed the al-Qa'ida leader, and said that the drone had undergone work in California in October 2010 to smooth out technical issues before it was taken to Afghanistan, where it continued to suffer problems. It was again sent for repairs, this time to Los Angeles, he said.

General Hajizadeh added that Iran had "started producing a copy" of the drone, which it claimed to have brought down over the town of Kashmar near the Afghan border by jamming its systems. The account was dismissed by US officials, who said that it had most likely malfunctioned.

The drone's capture handed some of America's most prized surveillance technology to the Iranians, and shed light on the extent of CIA-led covert operations to detect Iranian nuclear activity amid Western suspicions that Tehran is seeking a nuclear bomb.

US Senator Joe Lieberman yesterday expressed doubts over Iran's latest claims. "There's a history here of Iranian bluster," he said in televised comments.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Foundation Primary Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are looking for Founda...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?