By The Associated Press

Iran claimed Sunday that it had reverse-engineered an American spy drone captured by its armed forces last year and has begun building a copy.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the aerospace division of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, related what he said were details of the aircraft’s operational history to prove his claim that Tehran’s military experts had extracted data from the U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel captured in December in eastern Iran, state television reported.

Among the drone’s past missions, he said, was surveillance of the compound in northwest Pakistan in which Osama Bin Laden lived and was killed.

Tehran has flaunted the capture of the Sentinel, a top-secret surveillance drone with stealth technology, as a victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.

U.S. officials have acknowledged losing the drone. They have said Iran will find it hard to exploit any data and technology aboard it because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones operating over hostile territory.

Hajizadeh told state television that the captured surveillance drone is a “national asset” for Iran and that he could not reveal full technical details. But he did provide some samples of the data that he claimed Iranian experts had recovered.

“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,” Hajizadeh said.

He said all operations carried out by the drone had been recorded in the memory of the aircraft, including maintenance and testing.

Hajizadeh claimed that the drone flew over Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan two weeks before the al-Qaeda leader was killed there in May 2011 by U.S. Navy SEALs. He did not say how the Iranian experts knew this.

Before that, he said, “this drone was in California on Oct. 16, 2010, for some technical work and was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan on Nov. 18, 2010. It conducted flights there but apparently faced problems and (U.S. experts) were unable to fix it,” he said.

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,” he said. “It’s not that we can bring down a drone but cannot recover the data.”

There are concerns in the U.S. that Iran or other states may be able to reverse-engineer the chemical composition of the drone’s radar-deflecting paint or the aircraft’s sophisticated optics technology that allows operators to positively identify terror suspects from tens of thousands of feet in the air.

There are also worries that adversaries may be able to hack into the drone’s database, as Iran claimed to have done. Some surveillance technologies allow video to stream through to operators on the ground but do not store much collected data. If they do, it is encrypted.

Media reports claimed this week that Russia and China have asked Tehran to provide them with information on the drone but Iran’s Defense Ministry denied this.

One thought on “Iran Claims It’s Reproducing Captured U.S. Drone

  • I sincerely doubt the Iranians have much to work with at all. With the exception of the paint and propulsion system, most of what they need is not there. As I understand our military avionics of today; anyone who really thinks that we would build a highly sophisticated stealth UAV with a large accessible avionics package, is naive at best.

    In my singular view what they really have are built-in rabbit warrens that contain “Assumptions of Hostile Capture.” Along with highly sophisticated one way encryption methods, that are more or less normal since the Gary Powers Affair. In other words, there is nothing aboard this craft but encrypted information with out a decipherment key that changes in nanoseconds. With out the necessary sequences of keys known only to the ground station, they are looking at single lines of code containing something on the order of one terabyte [!,000,000,000,000] SHA 2048 bit, Bytes encoded in the twinkling of an EYE. { Translation: One Trillion 2048 bit words.}

    What that means simply is the craft probably had the ability to encrypt messages to the ground stations but had no decrypt ability. The only exception would be of simple two way communications for flight control and execution modules needing only a single encrypted one SHA SUM 2048 bit word.

    I suspect that what they may be able to decrypt is a few of these words. As I understand the situation, even if they break one encryption rabbit they will still have dozens of others left to befuddle even the best of decryptian programs for at least fifty years. The esteemed General is blowing smoke!

    In short, “Them’ns air be doin nuttin’ but whut we wants’em tah doo!”

    And pardon me for suspecting that Area 51 inserted some rather nasty code that they will not detect until it is way, way, way too late. PFFFT !!

    As far as the “Manning Affair is concerned someone with much a higher security classification had to be also involved. The concept that he could carry in a copying medium of what ever type and just sit down and copy files is totally ludicrous unless there was a major-major-major breach of security. In any event, this must have tripped alarms somewhere if true. This is due to the necessity of having to create an entirely new file. For that reason I am extremely dubious of his supposed feats. I have little doubt of his involvement, but his entry level cryptological status means to me that the messages were sent in ‘clear” or he the ability to copy the file’s owner permissions, including read-write-execute, or something of the sort, and CHANGE THEM. He would then have had to change the owner, mode, and permissions of the original file into his newly created file, which enabled an Operating System program to spit the copied file out into his new file and burn it onto a duplicating medium. The minute that he opened the burner program someone somewhere had to have known something was up. The concept that total access to top secret with decrypt is laughable to the extreme. In fact, I have long and personal experience in this area of government. To whit, every organization is overseen by an Inpector General’s office full of extremely smart kids with unbelievable skill sets!

    DISCLAIMER: As far as I am aware, everything I state here is from the public domain and are my own conclusions.

    This writer specifically disclaims any knowledge of any current top secret information and all stated assumptions are based on my own personal experience with military Avionics Packages of the Sixties and IT skill sets learned over the last twenty years. Because of the major Spy Scandals of the last thirty years, there has been an expensive and enormously complete revamping of our entire secret communications structure.
    note: I am a right of center Biblicist who has been intrigued by military affairs, electricity & Cryptology from my earliest years. When I learned a tiny bit of computer code writing I became a devoted amateur.wg

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