AP - Iran said Monday that it has successfully tested its own version of a U.S.-made drone based on one it captured in 2011.
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State TV quoted Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the aerospace division of the elite Revolutionary Guard, as saying the test was carried out earlier Monday.
"As we promised earlier this year, a test flight of the Iranian version of the RQ-170 was carried out and a video will be released soon," he said. Iran had displayed the drone earlier this year.
Iran has said it managed to reverse-engineer the RQ-170 Sentinel, seized in December 2011 after it entered Iranian airspace from neighboring Afghanistan, and that it's capable of launching its own production line for the unmanned aircraft.
Iran says it has captured several American drones in recent years, including a Boeing-designed ScanEagle drone — a less sophisticated aircraft — after it entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf. Tehran says it is also copying the ScanEagle and plans to put its version into service.
Iran has accused the U.S. of using drones to spy on the country's nuclear program. The U.S. and other Western nations have long suspected Iran is secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian program. Tehran insists its nuclear program is entirely focused on peaceful applications like power generation and the production of medical isotopes.
The two sides are currently struggling to reach an agreement under which Tehran would curb its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions.
Iran began a self-sufficiency military program in 1992, under which it has produced everything from mortars and torpedoes to military tanks, jet fighters and light submarines.