Iranians walk past a replica of the captured US RQ-170 drone which is on display next to the Azadi (Freedom) tower during the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Tehran on February 11, 2012.
Atta Kenare—AFP/Getty Images
November 10, 2014 10:09 AM EST

An Iranian copy of a U.S. drone that was deemed lost in 2011 has taken its first flight, its state news agency reported Monday.

Iran reported in December 2011 that it had captured a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance drone, a military stealth vehicle reportedly equipped with communication and nuclear surveillance technology. After news of the drone’s flight was reported by IRNA, Iranian commanders reaffirmed that valuable technology had been extracted from the American drone, according to Reuters.

“We promised that a model of RQ-170 would fly in the second half of the year, and this has happened,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told IRNA. “A film of the flight will be released soon.”

Hajizadeh suggested in early 2012 that Iran had plans to reverse-engineer the drone using the vehicle’s extracted data, the New York Times reported. U.S. officials had said in response to Hajizadeh’s claims that the drone’s security system would make extracting valuable information unlikely, though they said such systems do not always function properly.


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