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Downed U.S. drone a trophy for Iran

Dec. 11, 2011 at 8:14 AM

TEHRAN, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A U.S. unmanned reconnaissance aircraft brought down in Iran last week is a national trophy and won't be returned, an Iranian general said Sunday.

The RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was brought down last Sunday in eastern Iran with relatively little damage and has since been put on a pedestal for display, CNN reported.

Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Iranian armed forces, told Iran's semi-official Fars news agency the CIA drone was now Iranian property.

"It makes no difference where this drone originated and which group or country sent it to invade our air space," he said. "This was an act of invasion and belligerence."

While the official IRNA news agency reported Iranian forces had shot down the drone near Kashmar, about 140 miles from the Afghanistan border, U.S. aviation analyst Bill Sweetman told CNN images and video Iran released of the aircraft don't show signs of damage normally associated with a shoot-down. He said it was more likely the drone had a technological problem and came down on its own.

Meanwhile, a senior government official, Hossein Ebrahimi, told Fars the military would "simulate the design and reproduce" the stealth aircraft.

The CIA has been using the unmanned aircraft for several years over Afghanistan and Pakistan for both reconnaissance and attack missions.

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