IAF’s second-in-command says drone, which was reportedly similar to aircraft seized by Tehran in 2011, was advanced and based on Western technology

The Iranian drone shot down by the Israeli Air Force early Saturday morning appears to have been a relatively new stealth model whose design was stolen from an American unmanned aerial vehicle that was captured by Iran in 2011, according to aviation analysts.

On Saturday night, the Israel Defense Forces released photographs of the destroyed Iranian drone, which further enforced the view that the Iranian drone was a stealth model known as a — Thunderbolt, in English. These images joined video footage distributed by the army of the moments before the drone was shot down.

Michael Cruickshank, working with the air-force-focused Aviationist website, identified the Iranian drone as a Saeqeh that was first debuted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2016, based on the video footage.

Tal Inbar, an Israeli aviation expert for the Fisher Institute, agreed with the assessment, but noted that it was not clear from the video or the pictures which specific version of the drone was used.

The design for the Saeqeh, which looks something like a miniaturized B-2 bomber, is largely based on an American RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone, one of which Iran claimed to have shot down in December 2011, when it broadcast footage of the recovered aircraft.

Chief of the aerospace division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Amir Ali Hajizadeh (left), near the captured US RQ-170 Sentinel drone in April 2012. (photo credit: AP/Sepahnews)