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Iran Does Mission Possible, Reveals Replica of Captured U.S. Drone, But Does It Really Work?

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 13, 2014 1:33 PM EST

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on Sunday announced the country has managed to crack the technology of the U.S. bat-wing craft it captured in 2011 as it unveiled a replica of the captured drone.

REUTERS/KCNA
A rocket is fired during a drill of drone planes assaulting targets and a firing drill of self-propelled flak rocket destroying "enemy" cruise missiles coming in attack in low altitude, conducted by the air force and air defence artillery units of the Korean People's Army in an undisclosed location in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang March 20, 2013. KCNA said this picture was taken on March 20, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

No less than Khamenei flaunted the news photo on Twitter as he was shown a copy of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel drone during a ceremony in Tehran on Sunday by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

At the time of its capture, Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, belittled Iran has the capacity and knowledge to copy it. ""I don't have confidence at this point that they are really able to make a copy of it .... It's a very sophisticated piece of machinery," he said then.

Sunday's ceremony in Iran, however, rings a different tune.

"Our engineers succeeded in breaking the drone's secrets and copying them," an Iran state television broadcast announced. "It will soon take a test flight."

"[It] gives the message of our internal power and capabilities ... and declares that: 'We can'," Khamenei said.

"They surely have copied it externally," David Cenciotti, the founder of the blog The Aviationist, told Mashable. "Now, copying the internal systems is a whole another story. Although I don't feel like I can exclude that a priori."

Iran's duplicate of the US RQ-170 Sentinel drone was smaller, but it has a "bombing capability to attack the US warships in any possible battle," Fars News Agency reported.

The Iranian Tasnim News Agency reported the Iranian Armed Forces' electronic warfare unit was able to successfully commandeer the aircraft and safely landed it three years ago in December 2011.

According to CNN, U.S. officials said the drone "was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission that involved both the intelligence community and military personnel stationed in Afghanistan."

Mr Obama asked Iran to return it back a month after it was captured.

But Sunday's ceremony proved otherwise.

"No nation welcomes other countries' spy drones in its territory, and no one sends back the spying equipment and its information back to the country of origin," Fars News Agency quoted Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's military.

"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," Salami added.

Here's a YouTube clip of the Iranian TV broadcast of the alleged drone copy.

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(Photo: REUTERS/KCNA / )
A rocket is fired during a drill of drone planes assaulting targets and a firing drill of self-propelled flak rocket destroying "enemy" cruise missiles coming in attack in low altitude, conducted by the air force and air defence artillery units of the Korean People's Army in an undisclosed location in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang March 20, 2013. KCNA said this picture was taken on March 20, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA
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