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Iran Touts New Combat Drone 5 Years After Capturing US Prototype

  • VOA News

This photo released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shows a new attack drone called a "Saeqeh" in an undisclosed location in Iran, Oct. 1, 2016.

This photo released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shows a new attack drone called a "Saeqeh" in an undisclosed location in Iran, Oct. 1, 2016.

Iranian news reports say Tehran has built a new aerial attack drone similar to a U.S. military aerial vehicle captured five years ago after it entered Iranian airspace from the country's eastern border with Afghanistan.

The semiofficial Tasnim news agency said the "Saeqeh" ("Thunderbolt") long-range drone is capable of hitting four targets with smart bombs with what it called "pinpoint accuracy."

The report described the new drone as a homegrown aircraft "made by reverse engineering of [an] American Lockheed Martin RQ-170" vehicle that was downed in December 2011. It described the new drone as part of a broad range of unmanned vehicles with civilian and military applications.

There has been no official U.S. comment on the Tasnim report.

In 2012, Iranian media quoted a top general as saying data recovered from the seized U.S. drone showed it was used to conduct surveillance on the Pakistan hideout of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden shortly before he was killed by U.S. forces in 2011.

The Washington Post also reported that year that a CIA stealth surveillance drone had earlier flown deep over Iranian territory, capturing images of Iran's high-security Qom uranium enrichment facility before leaving the country's airspace.

During that period, Iran and Western powers were embroiled in a contentious dispute over the details of Iran's suspect nuclear program, which was widely thought to be working to develop nuclear weapons.

The dispute led to a series of crippling Western sanctions against Iran that remained in place until 2015, when Tehran reached a preliminary agreement with Western powers to redesign its nuclear facilities to curtail the production of nuclear fuels.

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