After announcing a purportedly successful attempt to reverse-engineer a captured U.S. spy drone earlier this week, Iran released footage of its stealth RQ-170 spy drone copy performing a flight test Wednesday.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division commander claimed the successful replication of the captured U.S. drone Monday. Iran says the U.S. drone was downed by the country’s electronic warfare unit in December 2011 while flying inside Iranian air space over the city of Kashmar, Iran’s PressTV reports.
While the footage appears to be genuine, some of the cuts and sequencing raise questions about Iran’s claim of a full-sized, fully functional replica.
The footage — shot from both ground and air — repeats only a few seconds’ worth of maneuvers throughout the broadcast, and features an odd sequence of sudden cuts when the drone makes a runway landing and takeoff.
According to The Aviationist, Iran made a scaled down version of its captured RQ-170 only 60 percent the size of the original for a flight test four months ago.
“[M]ore than a UAV, the aircraft moves and reacts to the remote pilot’s input as a small remotely piloted scale model,” the report states about the video released Wednesday.
Videographers shooting the drone are also careful to avoid capturing anything else in the frame that could provide a scale estimate, and the landing sequence quickly cuts from a drone landing to what appears to be a larger drone taxiing on the runway (which could be the full-sized model) back to a zoomed-out shot of the (possibly scaled-down) drone taking off.
The CIA denies both that the drone was in Iranian airspace or that Iran’s military was able to bring it down.
ABC News reports the U.S. government is unable to confirm “Tehran’s claims.”