Iranian drone shot down by Israel reportedly based on US spy aircraft captured years ago

An Iranian drone shot down by Israel over the weekend reportedly is a copycat of a U.S. aircraft that was captured by the Islamic Republic in 2011.

Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus and Yuval Steinitz, a security cabinet minister, said the drone that infiltrated the country on Saturday was a copy of the RQ-170 Sentinel, which Iran claimed in 2016 to have reverse-engineered, according to the Washington Post.

“It was an Iranian copy of a U.S. drone that they got hold of a few years ago and they duplicated,” Steinitz was quoted by the newspaper as saying on Israeli radio.

Experts who looked at footage and images of the downed drone also told the Washington Post that its shape strongly resembles Iran’s Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) drone, which is based on the RQ-170 Sentinel.

Conricus said the drone wreckage is still being looked at.

Iran, meanwhile, dismissed the statements as “ridiculous.”

“Claims about the flight of an Iranian drone…are too ridiculous to be addressed because the Islamic Republic of Iran has advisory presence in Syria at the request of the country's legitimate and constitutional government,” the Tehran Times quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying to Press TV.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday – after the drone was taken out -- that his country will protect itself from “any threat or any attempt to harm its sovereignty.”

“Israel is seeking for peace, but we will continue to defend ourselves against any attack against us, and against any attempt by Iran to establish military bases in Syria or anywhere else,” he said.