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Iran shows footage from 'downed US drone'

State TV airs video footage that it says was extracted from CIA drone it captured in Iranian airspace.
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 01:38
The Elite Revolutionary Guards say the footage includes the craft landing in southern Afghanistan [Reuters]

State television in Iran has aired video purporting to show footage extracted from a CIA drone captured inside the country's airspace in December 2011.

The Elite Revolutionary Guards released the video in a documentary broadcast late on Wednesday.

The al-Alam TV broadcast marked the first time the footage has been seen since the RQ-170 Sentinel was captured after it entered Iranian airspace from its eastern border with Afghanistan.

"By decoding data extracted from the drone, we found out that the aircraft had conducted many flights in Iran's neighbouring countries," Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' aerospace division, said in the broadcast.

The Guards aerospace division, which said it seized the unmanned aircraft, said the footage showed images of the drone landing at an airbase in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, as well as at a base in Pakistan.

In addition, the TV also showed images of an Iranian helicopter transporting the drone, as well as its disassembled parts being carried on a trailer.

Iran has previously claimed that it brought down the drone electronically by "spoofing" its GPS guidance system.

US officials have said the Sentinel suffered a malfunction.

The US military and the Central Intelligence Agency regularly use drones to launch missile strikes in Afghanistan and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, but do not generally confirm such raids.

Shortly after Iran announced the drone's capture, the NATO-led military force in Afghanistan said the aircraft had been on a mission over western Afghanistan.

US media had reported fears in the United States that Iran could access and make use of the highly advanced technology used in the drone.

But a US official later cast doubts that "the Iranians have the expertise" to exploit the technology found in the aircraft.

The RQ-170 Sentinel is a high-altitude stealth reconnaissance drone made by Lockheed Martin.

Its existence was exposed in 2009 by specialised reviews and later confirmed by the US Air Force in 2010.

Iran said in January that it was in possession of two more US-made RQ-11 reconnaissance drones it shot down over the previous 15 months, in addition to a ScanEagle drone and the RQ-170.

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