x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Iran in 'final stages' of cracking software secrets of captured US drone

Tehran will reverse-engineer the US drone it has in its possession, according to the head of Iran's parliamentary national security committee.

TEHRAN // Iran will reverse-engineer the US drone it has in its possession, and is in the "final stages" of unlocking the aircraft's software secrets, according to the head of Iran's parliamentary national security committee.

"Our next action will be to reverse-engineer the aircraft," Parviz Sorouri said.

"In the near future, we will be able to mass produce it. Iranian engineers will soon build an aircraft superior to the American [drone] using reverse engineering."

Iran says it captured the sophisticated US drone, a bat-winged RQ 170 Sentinel, on December 4 as it was flying in its airspace. It claimed a Revolutionary Guards cyber-warfare unit hacked the aircraft's flight controls.

US officials, who reportedly said the drone was flying a CIA mission over Iran, have expressed scepticism that Iran has the technology to perform such a feat. They said it was more likely the drone suffered a malfunction.

They have also cast doubts over Iran's ability to replicate the drone — at least without the help of Russia or China.

But Mr Sorouri said "we are in the final stages of cracking [the drone's] code".

He predicted that Iran will acquire valuable intelligence through deciphering the Americans' covert intelligence and espionage methods once the code is cracked, though he added that he could not say when the unlocking of the software would be complete.

Mr Sorouri also said Iran does not need Russian or Chinese cooperation to copy the drone.

"They will definitely not be involved. This great defensive capability is reserved for us, and we are not ready to share it with others," he said.

"We will use this capability as a deterrence. And I doubt the Islamic Republic would share this technology with other countries."