Iran Says It Can Make Copy Of Captured CIA Drone By Ali Akbar Dareini


DeM Banter: LET THE GAMES BEGIN! Even if Iran is bluffing, I am sure there is someone out there willing to assist in their effort…and I ponder if they are looking for a stealth deliver system for some of their new toys? Just a thought…oh and note: they are “exporting its domestically manufactured drones to several countries, including Syria and Venezuela.” What could possibly go wrong?
December 12, 2012

Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran is now capable of manufacturing its own copies of an advanced CIA spy drone captured last year, a senior Iranian lawmaker said Wednesday.

Avaz Heidarpour, a member of the parliament’s national security committee, said experts have reverse-engineered the RQ-170 Sentinel drone, and Iran now is capable of launching a production line for the unmanned aircraft.

“Iranian experts examined and analyzed the RQ-170 drone. Its parts were brought down so that all files and boards of the drone were copied and used to improve Iran’s unmanned aircraft,” he told the parliament’s website,, on Wednesday.

Heidarpour said production of RQ-170 drone cost the U.S. around $20 billion, but the expensive technology is now in Iran’s possession through reverse engineering.

The Sentinel went down in December. Iran claimed it took control of it and landed it, but U.S. officials said the drone malfunctioned and had to land. They eventually confirmed the plane was 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.

Iranian officials said the data recovered from the drone showed it did not carry out any missions on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iranian officials frequently announce technological and military breakthroughs, most of which are impossible to confirm independently.

Iranian Deputy Minister of Science, Research and Technology Mohammad Mahdinejad said last week that Iran is now exporting its domestically manufactured drones to several countries, including Syria and Venezuela.

Mahdinejad said Iran is now a global leader in drone technology and that its export of drones to other countries demonstrated of Iran’s advanced capability in designing and operating unmanned aircrafts.

Heidarpour’s comment came two days after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it decoded all data from the drone that went down near Iran’s eastern border with Afghanistan.

Tehran had previously said it recovered information from the top-secret stealth aircraft, but Guard’s announcement suggested that technicians may have broken encryptions.

Last week, the Guard claimed it captured another U.S. drone after it entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf, showing an image of what it said was a Boeing-designed ScanEagle drone on state TV.

The ScanEagle is a small, relatively simple drone. The U.S. has said none of its drones were missing, but one or more might have fallen into the sea over the past months.

The Islamic Republic has been trumpeting its possession of the drones in an attempt to embarrass Washington over its alleged surveillance of Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

Guard commanders said Iran had previously acquired a ScanEagle drone and produced a copy of it, but they have not provided evidence to back up their claim.

Last month, Tehran claimed that a U.S. drone violated its airspace. The Pentagon said an unmanned Predator aircraft came under fire at least twice while flying over international waters, but it was not hit.

6 Replies to “Iran Says It Can Make Copy Of Captured CIA Drone By Ali Akbar Dareini”

  1. Hi Bill,

    I am so not concerned by this. I know a lot of people with ready access to a hobby shop full of RC airplane parts, systems-on-a-chip, a laptop with the gnu compiler suite, software programmable radio chips, cell phones and other gps receivers. A neighbor of mine in another state was doing this as research and as part of studies he undertook in college. Here is what some amateurs on our side of the pond are up to. Never mind what the folks at Boeing, Lockheed, and other well financed engineering firms are up to:

    By the way, here is a school based rocketry program that uses a lot of open source tools:

    If you find a scaled up model airplane exceptionally challenging to the point that you need to brag about it, perhaps you don’t need to try for world leadership….

    Fly, Fight, Win! and do it gracefully!



    1. Hoping you are right…Ben you know… I am wrong… A lot! But this is something I am just mentally overlaying historical data to…as such… It is a concern. Not worried about an RC airplane by any stretch…

      This is a tad different…and it is not the weapons system per-say (not sure that is spelled right), it is the issues that go with the robotic nature of the system…I know the arguments…it’s the same as a TLAM..I disagree. This is the first step in a standoff, robotic type of warfare that WE are ignoring a nations sovereignty to strike at targets of our choosing. We would go ballistic if another nation behaved the way we are. We are setting the precedent. And as the systems proliferate…we will not have much of a leg to stand on…or worse, what do we do when the weapon is used against us?

      Maybe I have watched too much Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Wars…but the droid army is getting built now, now will it be used?

  2. Hi Bill,

    Yes, the precedent is being set, and we may need to take some of our own medicine someday. Probably sooner than we want to, but we did unleash that dragon…. The surest thing to know is that the droid armies will each answer to their overlords. Those droid armies will be used for whatever purposes the overlords choose to use them for. Payback might be one option.

    For the near future, two main concerns arise. One is how much does it cost to defend against a droid army from a purely defensive perspective. By this I mean, do we develop our own Iron Dome, or buy more Patriot Missiles, or invest in SHORAD for high value targets? (Who operates that system, and who chooses what is a high value target? Does the local mall, school, or church count? Can we as a nation afford to really defend our infrastructure against what I call “the Mack truck test”?) Does that defensive system cost more to use then the target does? Is it worth it to the nation to pursue that? So winds the measure-counter-measure-counter-counter-measure clock…. The other is the cost of escalation as a means of retaliation for sending some of that medicine back…. Your comment about going ballistic may be more apt than you think…. Let’s hope not.

    As we have discussed before, we currently get away with this behavior because places where we use this capability can’t really reach out and touch us back…. yet…. (USS Cole example notwithstanding.) It kind of makes you wonder about the news story about the bully that got some big time comeuppance. Occasionally you read about a bully that received the ultimate payback. I would argue that any moral argument that might be used is moot if you are on the receiving end of a smackdown. At that point it is mostly about payback. The lesson of the Golden Rule does have a place in international affairs. You are right that we ignore that rule at our own peril, even if we are the BMOC.



  3. Here’s my curiosity… And this probably sounds naive and slightly uneducated but looking at a “drone army” capability… Aren’t all electronic things inherently flawed in the sense that with the right technology, know-how, experience, they can all be hacked? Perhaps a venture for us, really invest in, on the cyber front, a team of highly capable hackers who specialize in RPA command and control… This may already exist but wouldn’t that be a more effective means of defense than a missile defense system (either terrestrial or extra terrestrial)?

    Regardless, I love a good case of sabre rattling! It really gets the morning started off on a bang. How about what’s going on in Turkey? Just the next step into Syria.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: