Iran Shows Footage of Purported US Drone

Posted December 8th, 2011 at 5:55 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Iranian state television has released the first images of what it said was a U.S. unmanned reconnaissance drone downed on Sunday along Iran's eastern border after it made a brief incursion into its airspace.

The footage broadcast Thursday evening, shows Iranian military officials inspecting an aerial vehicle resembling a high-tech RQ-170 Sentinel drone. The vehicle appears to be in good shape and with no visible damage.

The chief of the aerospace division of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, General Ami Ali Hajizadeh, said Iranian forces brought the drone down through a “cyber attack.” He said the drone “fell into the trap of electronic warfare unit” who then managed to land it with minimum damage.

Also Thursday, Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss Ambassador to Tehran, Livia Leu Agosti, to protest the drone incident. The U.S. and Iran do not have diplomatic relations, and Switzerland handles American interests in Iran. The state television said that the ministry demanded an explanation and compensation from Washington.

U.S. officials have acknowledged the drone's loss and described the incident as a major setback to the stealth drone program. They said there are real fears that the Iranians will share the drone technology with China or some other country, but also expressed doubts the Iranians have the expertise to recover any surveillance data from the aircraft.

The drone incident came at a time of heightened political tension over Iran's nuclear program the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons. The United States and Israel said they were considering “all options” on Tehran, if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute.

Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.