Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh revealed on Thursday that several American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) flying above Syria and Iraq were remotely commandeered by the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
"Seven to eight drones that had constant flights over Syria and Iraq were brought under our control and their intel was monitored by us and we could gain their first-hand intel," General Hajizadeh said in the Western Iranian city of Hamedan on Thursday.
Fars News Agency published a three-minute video taken on several different occasions by UAVs. Half of the content shows a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper hacked by IRGC electronic warfare forces, then flown into the ground. The last segment of the video shows an American air strike targeting the crashed UAV.
The footage below shows IRGC’s penetration into United States Central Command, could be seen as evidence that supports General Hajizadeh’s claims.
Iran has a long history of pioneering UAV technology. The country has manufactured UAVs since the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s.
Fars News Agency explains that drone technology in the country soared when it downed a US army RQ-170 Sentinel in Eastern Iran in 2011. One quarter later, Iran started production of its RQ-170 stealth aircraft after it reverse engineered the downed UAV. The Iranian RQ-170 conducted its official flight in late 2014.
The original RQ-170 was a stealth UAV manufactured for surveillance operations, while the Iranian version of the RQ-170 is armed with missiles.
In 2013, General Hajizadeh said Iran jumped three decades ahead in UAV technology after it reverse engineered American UAVs.
Fars News Agency said Iran has acquired a vast collection of downed American UAVs, including Scan Eagle, Raptor, M-Q9 surveillance. All drones have since been reverse engineered into new advance drones that are currently being deployed in Iran and in Syria.
The statement from General Hajizadeh and the video published by Fars News Agency came amid reports that the US had accelerated a top-secret program to destroy Iran’s missile program.