Iran for the first time showcased supposed evidence it has managed to access some of the data stored on a US ‘Sentinel’ drone it captured back in December 2011. The claims are based on aerial footage aired by an Iranian TV channel.
Earlier in April, the country’s military officials announced that Iranian experts have decoded the drone's intelligence gathering system and hard discs, but provided little proof of the breakthrough.
But the newly released video details the first examples of the unmanned air vehicle’s activities, including flying around the Kandahar airfield (KAF) in Afghanistan, a building under surveillance and a Reaper drone parked at the KAF.
Interestingly, the drone’s erase sequence never kicked in when it lost control, making data recovery possible.
But how the so-called ‘Beast of Kandahar’ ended up crash-landing in Iran is still a mystery. The US claimed it was only patrolling the Afghan-Iranian border when it lost control. But that does not explain how the drone was discovered 225 kilometers inside Iranian airspace.
On 9 December 2011, Iran filed a formal complaint to the United Nations Security Council over the violation of its airspace. However, only three days later the US asked for its drone back, much to the dismay of Tehran, who replied saying "it seems he [Obama] has forgotten that Iran’s airspace was violated, spying operations were undertaken, international laws were violated and that Iran’s internal affairs were interfered with. … Instead of an official apology and admitting to this violation, they are making this request."
But this did not mark the last time a drone confrontation would take place between the two nations. Less than a year later, in November 2012, Iran for the first time took down a ‘Predator’ drone over the Persian Gulf, with the US claiming it was flying over international waters at the time.