Iran shows its copy of US drone in flight
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
A handout picture released by the official website of Iran's Defence Ministry website on September 23, 2014, shows deputy defense minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami posing with a newly made drone during an unveiling ceremony in Tehran on September 23, 2014. AFP PhotoState television aired footage Nov. 12 of the test flight of a drone which Iran says it reverse engineered from a US aircraft that came down over its territory in 2011.
The 30-second clip, broadcast before the midday news and filmed from a helicopter as well as from the ground, showed a delta-winged aircraft in flight.
It came after the commander of the air wing of the elite Revolutionary Guards, General Amir-Ali Hadjizadeh, announced on Monday that the drone had made a successful maiden test flight.
Tehran captured the US RQ-170 Sentinel in December 2011 while it was in its airspace, apparently on a mission to spy on the country's nuclear sites, media in the United States reported.
Iran said it had taken control of the ultra hi-tech drone and forced it down in the desert where it was recovered nearly intact.
Washington says the drone crashed after experiencing a technical glitch.
In May, a military official said Iranian engineers had successfully copied the US aircraft.
Images broadcast by state television at the time appeared to show two near-identical drones.
Apart from a fast-moving ballistic weapons programme, Iran has been producing drones since 2010.
Tehran says its weapons programmes are for purely defensive purposes, but the United States, whose Fifth Fleet is based across the Gulf in Bahrain, has voiced concern.