Iran is showcasing a USAF RQ-170 Sentinel drone that Tehran claims to have downed in a sophisticated cyber attack.
"Recently, our collected intelligence and electronic monitoring revealed [the] aircraft intended to infiltrate our country's airspace for spying missions. After it entered the eastern part of the country, [the] aircraft was downed with minimum damage," said Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Forces Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh.
"The wing-to-wing width of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone is around 26 meters with a length of 4.5 meters and height of 1.84 meters. [It is] equipped with highly advanced surveillance, data gathering, electronic communication and radar systems. This kind of plane has been designed to evade radar systems and from the view point of technology it is amongst the most recent types of advanced aircraft [deployed] by the US."
Analysts at the Israel-based DebkaFile note the drone's almost perfect condition confirms Teheran's claim that the UAV was forced down by a cyber attack, which the site describes as an "electronic warfare ambush."
"Like every clandestine weapons system, the RQ-170 had a self-destruct mechanism to prevent its secrets spilling out to the enemy in the event of a crash or capture. This did not happen. The state of the lost UAV refutes the US military contention that the Sentinel's systems malfunctioned. If this had happened, it would have crashed and either been wrecked or damaged," the analysts explained.
"The condition of the RQ-170 intact obliges the US and Israel to make major changes in plans for a potential strike against Iran's nuclear program. This is a major debacle for the stealth technology the US uses in its warplanes and the drone technology developed by the US and Israel."
The stealth RQ-170 is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Dubbed the "Beast of Kandahar" by aviation journalist Bill Sweetman, the drone has since been spotted in South Korea and also played a role in the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.