Pentagon Downplays Iranian Replica Drone After First Flight

WASHINGTON — Iran's copy of a U.S. drone aircraft captured in 2011 is inferior to the American original, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, as it downplayed claims from Tehran this week that the replica had taken its first flight.

Asked about the Iranian replica, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren quipped: "Replica being the operative word there."

"There is no way it matches American technology," Warren told a news briefing. He did not cite evidence to back up his assertion.

In December 2011, Iran said it had captured a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance drone in eastern Iran that had been reported lost by U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan. The aircraft is manufactured by U.S. defense technology company Lockheed Martin.

In a video posted this week by the semi-official Tasnim News Agency, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced satisfaction after seeing a replica of the drone, saying: "Today is a very sweet and unforgettable day for me."

Image: US President Obama asks for return of US drone in Iran
A file undated handout picture released by the official website of Iran's Revolutionary Guards on 08 December 2011, shows Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh (R) looking at the US RQ-170 drone which reportedly crashed in eastern Iran near the city of Kashmar on 04 December 2011. Iran Revolutionary Guard / EPA
— Reuters