VOA – 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.