Iran state television showed the first video footage of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone that supposedly belongs to the United States. In the news footage, two men in fatigues walk around the drone, which had been placed on a pedestal and surrounded by propaganda posters.
Iranian officials claim that the unmanned C.I.A. spy plan was brought down earlier this week after it flew into Iran's airspace, a claim with the United States has denied. Gen. Ami Ali Hajizadeh of the Revolutionary Guards says in the video that Iran used high-tech electronic interference to down the aircraft over the eastern town of Kashmar.
It fell into the trap of (the Guards) electronic warfare unit who then managed to land it with minimum damage, Hajizadeh said.
“They wanted to spy on Iran, but it has turned against them,” said the news presenter in the telecast.
“Iran’s wisdom is keeping the Americans awake at night.”
Before the video, the only evidence that Iran had the drone was a grainy photo taken from some distance away. The United States has remained tactfully secretive about the aircraft, saying only that the military lost contact with the Afghanistan-based drone. According to Iranian officials, the drone was discovered about 140 miles from the Afghanistan border.
The pentagon is reportedly studying the television footage to determine if the drone in the video is the one that was lost. According to the soldier in the video, the drone is 4.5 meters long, 1.84 meters high and has a 26 meter wingspan, the exact specifications of the RQ-170 Sentinel.
On Thursday, Iran submitted a formal protest against the United States for operating the stealth vehicle inside Iranian air space, which is in violation of international law. The complaint was filed with the Swiss embassy, which handles U.S. diplomatic dealings in Iran in absence of an American embassy in the country.
If the drone is authentic, the major concern for the United States is that Iran could observe top secret military technology, and use it either to develop similar tools or sell the information to bidders like North Korea and China.