x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Iranian TV broadcasts US drone footage

State TV broadcasts footage allegedly extracted from the advanced CIA spy drone captured in 2011.

TEHRAN // Iran's state TV has broadcast footage allegedly extracted from the advanced CIA spy drone captured in 2011, the latest in a flurry of moves from Iranian authorities meant to underline the nation's purported military and technological advances.

Iran has long claimed it managed to reverse-engineer the RQ-170 Sentinel, seized in December 2011 after it entered Iranian airspace from the country's eastern border with Afghanistan, and that it is capable of launching its own production line for the unmanned aircraft.

After initially saying only that a drone had been lost near the Afghan-Iran border, US officials eventually confirmed that the Sentinel had been monitoring Iran's military and nuclear facilities. Washington asked for it back but Iran refused, and instead released photos of Iranian officials studying the aircraft.

The video broadcast on Wednesday on Iranian TV shows an aerial view of an airport and a city, said to be a US drone base and Kandahar, Afghanistan. The TV also showed images purported to be the Sentinel landing at a base in eastern Iran, but it was unclear if that footage meant to depict the moment of the drone's capture.

In addition, it also showed images of an Iranian helicopter transporting the drone, as well as its disassembled parts being carried on a trailer.

In another part of the video, the chief of the Revolutionary Guard's airspace division, Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said that only after capturing the drone, had Iran realised it "belongs to the CIA".

"We were able to definitively access the data of the drone, once we brought it down," Gen Hajizadeh said.

He described the Sentinel's capture as a huge scoop for Iran, saying at the time that Tehran did not rule out a possible punitive US airstrike over the drone.