The sleek winged craft wouldnt look out of place in a Star Trek movie. But there was what appeared to be the CIAs prized drone, dubbed the Beast of Kandahar, propped up on a display podium in Tehran with members of the Revolutionary Guards checking it out. A banner behind the stealth drone read Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to England. And if that didnt get the message across, another banner at the bottom of the podium read, America cant do a damn thing. If the video of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone, which aired on Iranian TV on Thursday, is accurate, there may not be much the US can do now. The downed drone could turn out to be an intelligence bonanza for Iran, which has long touted its own budding drone programme. But its not Iran alone that will benefit. Russia and China, who have supplied Iran with military equipment in the past, also have hit the jackpot and will likely get a look at one of the most sophisticated unmanned aircraft in the US arsenal. Russian and Chinese officials have already asked to inspect the drone, according to the Nasim Online news site. Thats not all. Even Irans militant allies Hezbollah and Hamas may benefit from technology that is exploited from the drone. And thats the kind of scenario thats been worrying US military commanders for a long time. My worry would be [drone] capabilities...getting in the hands of nonstate actors who could use them for terrorist purposes, former Defence Secretary Robert Gates said at a Senate hearing last year. For years, Irans drone programme has been surrounded by a lot of official hype and fanfare. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled what he claimed to be a long-range unmanned bomber drone last year, calling it an ambassador of death. The Karrar, as the drone is officially known, is said to be able to carry two 250-pound bombs, and video footage released by the Iranian military at the time of the launch appeared to show the drone blasting a target with a missile. Many US military officials arent convinced, claiming Irans drone capabilities are more flash than substance. Still, Iran has put its drones in action in sensitive areas. On at least one occasion Iran flew a drone over a good chunk of Iraq, a senior US adviser to the Iraqi government said in an interview last year. The US Air Force shot it down, recovered it, and 'exploited it, turning it over to the Iraqi government. This was an Iranian-built device with still and video cameras. However rudimentary, Irans drone technology has already been shared with its allies. Hezbollah has flown a number of drones into Israeli airspace in recent years, including at least one during the 2006 war. So far, none of these drones appear to have been armed with missiles. But Israeli military officials have said in the past that Iran has passed on the technology and know-how for arming up drones both to Hezbollah and Hamas. Technology from the downed drone could improve the design of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used by these militant groups and perhaps allow them to evade Israeli radar. Breaking down the downed drone also could help Iran and its militant allies in defending against surveillance by UAVs. (Its worth noting that the official Iranian narrative is that the armed forces were able to hack the drone and land it with minimal damage.) Drones have long been a regular feature of life for the residents of Gaza, as detailed in a recent Washington Post article. Gazans refer to the ubiquitous aircraft as zenana, a slang term for a nagging wife, and the steady buzz of Israeli drones also could be heard in southern Lebanon during the 2006 war. If the Iranians are able to crack the alleged RQ-170s stealth technology, it could lead to new techniques for hacking into other drones. Shiite militiamen allied with Iran were able to hack into US Predator drones being flown over Iraq in recent years. Hezbollah also has repeatedly claimed to have hacked Israeli drones. Indeed, video footage from an Israeli drone was cited by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah last year as proof that Israel had a hand in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Regardless of what Iran is able to exploit from the downed drone, its clear that the incident has inflamed tensions with the US. The Iranian government filed an official complaint with the UN on Thursday about the CIAs drone surveillance. And some Iranian politicians took it a step further. Were warning the international community, Mohammad Kowsari, the deputy chief of the parliaments national security commission, said in an interview with the semi-official Fars News agency. The next time an American spy plane violates Iranian soil, the Americans will receive a horrific response. Babak Dehghanpisheh is Newsweek/The Daily Beasts Beirut bureau chief. He has been covering the Middle East for Newsweek for the past 10 years. During that time he has reported on stories ranging from the capture of Saddam Hussain in Iraq to the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and the rise of Hizbullah guerrillas in Lebanon. In 2002 he was the lead reporter for The War Crimes of Afghanistan, which won a National Headliner Award and was a finalist for the National Magazine Award. Daily Beast