The Iranian military on Wednesday released a video of what it claimed was the successful maiden voyage of a drone it copied from an American unmanned aircraft that crashed in Iran three years ago, ABC News reported.
Officials in Washington, however, downplayed the Iranian showcase.
The footage, broadcast on Iranian state television, shows an aircraft with a similar shape to the U.S. Air Force’s RQ-170 taking off and flying at relatively low altitude before an edited portion of the video purports to show it landing back on the runway.
On Monday, a top Iranian military commander told local reporters the drone had made a successful flight and that footage would be released shortly.
“We had promised to fly the final model of [the] RQ-170 in the second half of the current [Iranian] year and this happened,” Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said at the time, according to the Iranian news outlet Fars.
Hajizadeh taunted the U.S. further on Wednesday, saying, “The mini-stroke Americans suffered will be complete by watching this footage.”
Hajizadeh claimed that while the U.S. only uses the drone for surveillance missions, Iran will use it for bombing runs as well.
In December 2011, Iran said it had captured a RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance drone in eastern Iran that had been reported lost by U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
The U.S. later admitted that one of its drones is in Iranian possession but did not say that the Iranians shot down the spy plane. In May, Iran unveiled a copy of the RQ-170 drone, promising at the time it would take test flights soon.
Asked about the Iranian replica on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren quipped. “Replica being the operative word there.”
“There is no way it matches American technology,” Warren added, but did not cite evidence to back up his assertion.