By Associated Press
UPDATED:10:15 EST, 22 April 2012
Iran’s military claims it has cracked the code to reverse engineer the American spy drove it captured last year and has begun building a copy.
Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the aerospace division of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, gave details he says were extracted from the aircraft’s operational history in an effort to prove his claim.
He told state TV Sunday the US RQ-170 Sentinel done had been used to spy on the compound in northwest Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden was hiding when he was killed by US forces.
Tehran has flaunted the capture of the Sentinel, a top-secret surveillance drone with stealth technology, as a victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.
It seized the unmanned aircraft in December when it crash-landed in eastern Iran. US officials have acknowledged losing the drone but said Iran will find it hard to exploit any data and technology aboard it because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones operating over hostile territory.
Hajizadeh told state television that the captured surveillance drone is a ‘national asset’ for Iran and that he could not reveal full technical details. But he did provide some samples of the data that he claimed Iranian experts had recovered.
‘There is almost no part hidden to us in this aircraft. We recovered part of the data that had been erased. There were many codes and characters. But we deciphered them by the grace of God,’ Hajizadeh said.
He said all operations carried out by the drone had been recorded in the memory of the aircraft, including maintenance and testing.
Hajizadeh claimed that the drone flew over Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan two weeks before the al-Qaida leader was killed there in May 2011 by US Navy SEALs. He did not say how the Iranian experts knew this.
Before that, he said, ‘this drone was in California on October 16, 2010, for some technical work and was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan on November 18, 2010. It conducted flights there but apparently faced problems and (US experts) were unable to fix it,’ he said.
Hajizadeh said the drone was taken to Los Angeles in December 2010 where sensors of the aircraft underwent testing at an aerospace factory.
‘If we had not achieved access to software and hardware of this aircraft, we would be unable to get these details. Our experts are fully dominant over sections and programs of this plane,’ he said.
‘It’s not that we can bring down a drone but cannot recover the data.’
There are concerns in the US that Iran or other states may be able to reverse-engineer the chemical composition of the drone’s radar-deflecting paint or the aircraft’s sophisticated optics technology that allows operators to positively identify terror suspects from tens of thousands of feet in the air.
There are also worries that adversaries may be able to hack into the drone’s database, as Iran claimed to have done. Some surveillance technologies allow video to stream through to operators on the ground but do not store much collected data. If they do, it is encrypted.
Media reports claimed this week that Russia and China have asked Tehran to provide them with information on the drone but Iran’s Defense Ministry denied this.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2133491/Iranians-say-reverse-engineered-captured-secret-drone-spy-plane.html#ixzz1s2pNaEBa