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Iranian TV Shows Captured RQ-170

by John Reed on December 8, 2011

Iran’s Press TV news channel is showing images of what is allegedly the RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone that Iranian electronic warfare troops brought down intact. American defense officials have acknowledged that a Sentinel — apparently operating out of Shindand in Eastern Afghanistan (notice that satellite pics of the base haven’t been updated in years, they still show the remains of the Soviet air base there) — did go down inside of Iran recently.

In some ways, the TV images look almost like they show a mock up. The drone appears to be a different color than it does in previous images. Still, with the Pentagon acknowledging the crash, I’m inclined to believe the images are true. Furthermore, the video shows details of the jet that look right like seams where access ports could be and an engine intake grill that could be designed to make it stealthier.

Most impressive is the fact that Iran got the drone intact — the wings appear to be slightly damaged and there may be more damage to the jet’s underbelly and sensor apertures that isn’t shown in the video. Tehran claims to have hacked the Sentinel’s control feeds and forced it to land while the U.S. claims it simply lost control of the UAV. If Iran did bring the plane down via EW, it shows that the Middle Eastern country has a significant cyber warfare capability.

Here’s what Press TV has to say about the drone:

On Sunday December 4, the Iranian Army’s electronic warfare unit downed with minimum damage the US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft which was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225km) from the Afghan border.

The aircraft had crossed into Iran’s airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Iran has announced that it intends to carry out reverse engineering on the captured RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft, which is also known as the Beast of Kandahar, and is similar in design to a US Air Force B-2 stealth bomber.

On Tuesday, two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the drone has been part of a CIA reconnaissance mission, involving the United State’s intelligence community stationed in Afghanistan.

They claimed the reconnaissance capability of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone enabled it to gather information from inside Iran by flying along Afghanistan’s border with the Islamic Republic.

The RQ-170 is an unmanned stealth aircraft designed and developed by the Lockheed Martin Company.

To be continued

Enjoy the footage after the jump and sound off as to whether you think the Iranians are showing off a real RQ-170.

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