Iran has put into operation a final version of the sophisticated US RQ-170 drone, which was captured in 2011 and later reverse-engineered by Iranian experts, says a senior Iranian commander.
The domestically produced version of the US RQ-170 unmanned stealth aircraft has made a successful inaugural flight, said Commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh on Monday.
The footage of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAE)’s flight test will be released soon, added the top general.
The US aircraft was downed with minimal damage by the Iranian Army’s electronic warfare unit in December, 2011, while flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) from the Afghan border.
At the time, US military officials tried to play the incident down, saying Iran did not have the technology to decipher the data stored on the drone. However, the aircraft was successfully reverse-engineered by IRGC experts in about two years.
In May, the Islamic Republic unveiled a copy of the American UAV originally designed and developed by the Lockheed Martin Company.
The drone is one of the United States’ most advanced spy aircraft and its loss is considered a major embarrassment for Washington.
In recent years, Iran has made major breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and systems.