Israel shoots down Iran’s counterfeit drone

| February 12, 2018 | 41 Comments

The Washington Post reports that the Iranian drone that Israel shot down this weekend was actually an Iranian copy of a US CIA RQ-170 Sentinel . The Iranians reverse-engineered the copy from a US drone that they recovered from a 2011 crash.

Experts who examined footage of the drone being shot down and images of its wreckage released by the Israeli military agreed that the shape strongly resembled that of Iran’s Saeqeh, or “Thunderbolt,” drone, which was based on a CIA-operated RQ-170 captured by Iran.

[Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for Israel’s military] said that he could not specifically confirm that the drone was a Saeqeh and that the debris is still being examined. Iran has developed several other models based on the RQ-170.

“It was an Iranian copy of a U.S. drone that they got hold of a few years ago and they duplicated,” [Yuval Steinitz, a minister in Israel’s security cabinet] told Israeli radio. Israel said the drone, operated by Iran from a base inside Syria, traveled three or four miles into its territory Saturday morning before being shot down.

Iran has described the Israeli claim as “ridiculous.”

Iran claims that their version of the stealth drone is armed with four laser-guided bombs, despite experts’ claims that it won’t remain stealthy with armaments. I guess it wasn’t stealthy enough to evade Israel’s detection.

“It would be a new development if they were flying these around,” Zwijnenburg said. The RQ-170 is designed to evade radar, made of materials that absorb, rather than bounce, the radar signal, but it is possible Iran has not been able to replicate that capability, Zwijnenburg said.

“They could have been testing air defenses or trying it out,” he said. “If it was trying to evade radar it would have to be flying low, and from the video it looks to be flying low.”

Iran is believed to have a dozen of these drones, but that number may be reduced by the Israelis in the coming weeks.

Category: Terror War

Comments (41)

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  1. ChipNASA says:


  2. Mason says:

    You can buy a lot of drone parts for $2,000,000,000. Or build the infrastructure to make your own parts.

    It wouldn’t take much to fit one of these with a dirty bomb (or the nukes they aren’t making). Clearly has the range to hit Israel.

    • AW1Ed says:

      The Iranian UAV was launched from Syria, which has a common boarder with Israel. Range wasn’t an issue. This most likely was a test of Israel’s detection capabilities, and I think Iran got an answer.

  3. Yef says:

    Why is the B21 bomber not a drone? Waste of money building old technology.

  4. Graybeard says:

    Someone decided to kick the anthill, and got bit.

    Obama added the Iranians, Trump is backing Israel.

    The writing is on the wall for those who can read it.

  5. bg2 says:

    I’ve always believed that Iran is a lot smarter than we give the country credit for. Again, -what happened- to all those former Soviet aerospace engineers whose labor was no longer needed when the USSR folded (and thousands of our own American engineers were given the boot.) What happens when your country has no jobs to support your advanced technical skills? I’d not be surprised if many migrated–to Iran–and have helped them build up their forces in the decades since.

  6. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    We won’t be around to see it, but at some point the ME will fold like yesterday’s newspaper when its oil and natural gas resources dwindle sufficiently or they are no longer in great demand. Whoever corners the camel market will make a killing.

  7. Atkron says:

    In my line of work we call reverse-engineering ‘Chinese Blueprints’.

  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    Is this drone based on the one that crashed during the raid on bin Laden’s house?

    If so, then it’s high time ours had that Cylon scanning thing going on, noise and all. And a voice response part that says ‘Exterminate!’ like the Daleks.

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