Iran will soon display upgraded copy of the captured U.S. stealth RQ-170 drone

In February 2013, a video, aired by an Iranian TV proved that Iran had accessed some of the data stored inside the U.S. stealthy RQ-170 drone captured in December 2011.

The footage was the first evidence that Iran has found something interesting in the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and its internal hard disks.

On Sept. 22, FARS News Agency reported the news that an indigenous Iranian drone, manufactured through reverse engineering of the captured “Beast of Kandahar” will be publicly displayed soon.

“All the memories and computer systems of this plane have been decoded and some good news will be announced in the near future not just about the RQ-170 and the optimizations that our forces have done on the reversed engineered model of this drone, but also in area of other important defense achievements,” IRGC Lieutenant Commander General Hossein Salami said to the FNA.

According to the Iranian officials, the Sentinel-replica will soon perform its maiden flight and will later be added to the Iranian Air Force order of battle.

Iran has hunted/recovered two more UAV types since then: two RQ-11s and at least one ScanEagle that had penetrated the Iranian airspace from the Persian Gulf.

By the way, the RQ-170 has been already copied, as images coming from China show.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Is it me ot does Iran just always look likes its only ever “playing armys”??
    “This is our amazing stealth fighter jet”… “Does it fly Mr Iranian”… “Well, no, but one day it might, in the mean time out pilot sits in the teeny tiny cockpit and plays”
    Theres no doubting Iran can cause some troubles for most people, however their out landish comments about “forth coming good news” etc just makes them look like idiots!

    • It’s laughable to us, but it’s serious business to Iranians. They see this crap and consume it on a daily basis.

  2. Yes – just like their upgraded stealth fighter, and upgraded new radar, and upgraded speedboats, and upgraded better-than-the-West EVERYTHING!

    Well, as usual, Iran has had another break-through. For the first time in human history they have managed to integrate an actual mammalian living brain into the control mechanism of a weapon system. A first that should earn some Iranian scientist the Nobel prize. Here – take a sneak peak at a photograph of this drone obtained by a CIA aircraft flying near Iran’s Area-51:

  3. Now the question of the day is what small agile talented individual is going to fit inside this new stealth “drone” on another please ignore the manned global hawk sitting inside my garage.

  4. I would want to point out this:
    Iran is running a systematic smoke-screen campaign of obfuscation. Among a lot of laughable claims there are embedded some claims and acheivements that are true. Which is which? They are deliberately creating ambiguity.

    Real accomplishments of Iran are for instance, capturing the RQ-170 intact in the first place, or keeping F-14s flying after more than 3 decades of embargo, or their nuclear weapons program, or the slow and steady builduip of indigenous guided weapons industry.

    Especially concering the nuclear program, it’s so easy for their apologists to say “Oh, it’s just one of these Iranian propaganda things. Not real”. This smokescreen of ambiguity is a huge advantage for the Iranian position. They play clown or Baghdad bob a lot of the time and then they get away with serious business.

    When it comes to the drone, I wouldn’t consider cloning it impossible. Especially with help from China + russia. Just remember the Cold war examples, the Soviets were going nowhere with their AAM program when they got an intact Sidewinder and they managed to clone fom that as well.

    “Optimized” simply decodes to “electronic systems in the Iranian version of course need to interface with Chinese-supplied equipment”. And of course this is superior to the Western stuff from the Iranian perspective ;) – because it allows the to actually operate it.

  5. While I sincerely doubt they can make a copy of it worthy of flight or more importantly a stealth drone capable of launching ordinance I still think it was an act of sheer stupidity and out right treason to allow the Iranians to seize our drone. We shouldn’t have bothered talking, we should have just started shooting until it was completely annihilated, consequences be damned. This thing is more important than any number of “innocent” Iranians.

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