Iran says it 'cracked' codes of downed American stealth drone


An Iranian man shows miniature toy models of the US drone RQ-170 in Tehran on January 19, 2012. An Iranian company designed the drone and prepares to sell it in the market. The US RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone was captured in Iran on December 4, 2011.


Atta Kenare

Iran's military on Sunday said they had "cracked" the encryption of a top-secret American stealth drone that was downed over eastern Iran in December 2011. 

CNN wrote that American defense officials doubted that Iran could extract much useful data from the RQ-170 Sentinel drone, which had technologies to minimize the amount of intelligence on board. Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh told Fars News Agency, "Yet, I provide four cues in here to let the Americans know how deep we could penetrate into the intelligence systems and devices of this drone."

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Hajizadeh claimed that Iran had accessed data that showed downed drone had flown over the Abbottabad, Pakistan hideout of slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden two weeks before American commandos killed him in May 2011. He also said they had discovered flight sorties, claiming the craft had been in California in October 2010 before returning to Afghanistan. 

Iran reiterated claims that it was building a copy of the drone, which Senator Joseph I. Lieberman called "bluster," according to the BBC. Iran also claims that it downed the plane using electronic warfare, while America says it malfunctioned. Photos and videos of the craft appear to show that is largely undamaged. 

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"Analysts believe lessons could certainly be learnt about how the machine was put together, reverse-engineering has generally been seen by experts as beyond Iran's capability," the BBC wrote. 

The Associated Press wrote Iran has "been known to exaggerate its military and technological prowess."

“We recovered part of the data that had been erased. There were many codes and characters. But we deciphered them by the grace of God," Hajizadeh said.