Editor’s Note: On 4 December 2011, a Lockheed-Martin RQ-170 Sentinel drone was brought down over northeastern Iran, presumably by the cyberwarfare unit of the Iranian government. In the last four years, the government has been meticulously dissecting and reverse-engineering the craft and now, according to their state media outlets, they have “improved” and armed the aircraft to suit the needs of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

As you may recall, the RQ-170 is an RPA operated by the United States Air Force out of a base in Nevada, on behalf of various three-letter agences. While many of the details and systems fielded by the Sentinel are classified, it is one of our most advanced ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) platforms. Bill Sweetman tagged it “the Beast of Kandahar” after the aircraft was seen in the pattern and on the ground in Afghanistan. And now here it is, in the hands of bad actors, reverse engineered for their purpose. Oh goody.

Iranian military leaders announced Thursday that they had successfully reproduced and improved a U.S. sentinel spy drone, one of which was downed and captured in Iranian territory in 2011.

Lockheed-Martin RQ-170 Sentinel drone. (Graphic courtesy of YouTube)
Lockheed-Martin RQ-170 Sentinel drone. (Graphic courtesy of YouTube)

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Aerospace Force, announced that Iran is calling its own version of the spy drone, “Simorgh,” which is Iranian for “Phoenix,” according to the country’s state controlled media.

Iran’s version of the drone “was manufactured through reverse engineering of the U.S. drone, which was tracked and hunted down in Iran late in 2011, and has been equipped by the IRGC with bombing capability,” according to Fars News Agency.

The Iranian media outlet further claimed that “Iran has downed many other U.S. drones as well, and they have always started reproducing them immediately after conducting reverse engineering.”

The original article can be viewed right here.

(Featured photo courtesy of REUTERS/Sepah News.ir)

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