An Iranian military commander claimed Monday that the country has stolen all the secrets held by a high-tech American surveillance drone that crashed in Iran last year, according to Iranian news reports.
"All the intelligence in this drone has been completely decoded and extracted and we know each and every step it has taken," said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Aerospace Division for the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard, according to an English-language report by Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency.
Another Iranian outlet, Press TV, reported that Hajizadeh said that data gleaned from the drone showed that it was not spying on the Iranian nuclear program – a story Hajizadeh said the Americans had spread "as an excuse for hostile practices."
The RQ-170 Sentinel drone, a classified unmanned surveillance craft produced by defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin, was on a CIA mission when it mysteriously crashed in Iranian territory last December, according to U.S. officials at the time. Days after the crash, Press TV broadcast video of what appeared to be the drone propped up but in good condition. Iranian officials said then they were going to set about analyzing the advanced aircraft.
At the time of the crash, American officials said that the drone had been operating over Afghanistan when its operators lost control, after which it floated into Iranian airspace. Iranian officials said their country's electronic warfare experts had been able to take control of the drone and bring it down -- a claim disputed by Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, who said the drone was not taken down by "hostile activity of any kind."
The bat-wing shaped craft is designed to dodge enemy radar and slip unnoticed into hostile territory to gather information or support operations on the ground. It was reportedly used to keep tabs on the man believed to be Osama bin Laden during the Navy SEAL mission that took out the terror leader in Pakistan in May.
Hajizadeh also reportedly said today that a surveillance drone sent by Hezbollah to spy in Israel
in October was "an old product of Iran" and featured none of the technology allegedly gleaned from the RQ-170.
Representatives from the CIA and the U.S. military did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report.