Published on Dec 8, 2011
Iranian TV has shown the first video footage of an advanced US drone aircraft that Tehran says it downed near the Afghan border.
فیلم هواپیمای امریکایی به غنیمت گرفته شده، ایران
Iran Displays Downed US Drone
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian state broadcaster Thursday evening released the first images of the highly advanced US stealth spy drone which was downed through a cyberattack by Iranian military forces last week as it was flying over the country's airspace.
According to the TV report, the wing-to-wing width of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone is around 26 meters with a length of 4.5 meters and height of 1.84 meters.
The drone is equipped with highly advanced surveillance, data gathering, electronic communication and radar systems, the report said.
The batwing-shaped, radar-evading aircraft, which are capable of being fitted with different sensor payloads meaning they can be equipped to capture a range of intelligence material, including high-resolution images, radiation measurements and air samples.
The US officials and western diplomats said the stealth drone was part of a fleet of secret aircraft that the CIA has used for several years in an escalating espionage campaign targeting Iran's nuclear facilities.
The aircraft, built by Lockheed Martin, is best known for its role in surveilling the compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed. "But it wasn't only being flown in Pakistan," the former official said.
Iran has already shot down more than a dozen of such aircraft during the last 4 to 5 years.
US officials have described the loss of the aircraft in Iran as a setback and a fatal blow to the stealth drone program.
Among the United States' main concerns is that Iran could use an intact aircraft to examine the vulnerabilities in stealth technology and take countermeasures with its air defense systems. Another is that China or other US adversaries could help Iran extract data from the drone that would reveal its flight history, surveillance targets and other capabilities.
The drone was programmed to destroy such data in the event of a malfunction, but it failed to do so. The blow has been so heavy that the US officials do not still want to accept that Iran brought down the plane by a cyberattack. Instead, explanations have focused on potential technical failures. The aircraft cover great distances and depend on satellite links. A lost connection or other malfunction could cause them to turn back home or start automatic explosion.