Did Iran Capture a U.S. Stealth Drone Intact?

The wedge-shaped RQ-170, built in small numbers by Lockheed Martin, was a secret until reporters photographed it at Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan in 2007, as seen above. The Air Force copped to its existence two years later. The RQ-170, nicknamed “Beast of Kandahar” by aviation journalist Bill Sweetman, has since been spotted in South Korea and also played a role in the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May. Analysts say the RQ-170 could scout out Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear facilities. With the U.S. and Israel threatening to attack Tehran’s nuke sites to prevent the regime from gaining nuclear weapons, reports of RQ-170s flying over Iran should not shock anyone. Still, the shoot-down claim, published today by the official Islamic Republic News Agency and echoed by Iran’s Press TV, should be taken with a giant grain of salt.
· 

THE SHOOTING-DOWN OF US STEALTH [THE BEAST OF KANDAHAR] BY IRAN: TAKE IT BY A GIANT GRAIN OF SALT

·

by David Axe

·

For the second time this year, the Iranian government is claiming it forced down a stealthy U.S. Air Force spy drone. Only this time, Iran says it bagged the RQ-170 “with little damage” by jamming its control signal — a potentially worrying development for American forces heavily reliant on remote-controlled aircraft.

There are good reasons to question Iran’s story — or at least parts of it. For starters, the earlier claim of a drone shoot-down proved false. Why would this announcement be any more credible? Also, for most U.S. unmanned aircraft, merely jamming the control signal won’t bring them down. Some don’t have control signals at all.

The wedge-shaped RQ-170, built in small numbers by Lockheed Martin, was a secret until reporters photographed it at Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan in 2007, as seen above. The Air Force copped to its existence two years later. The RQ-170, nicknamed “Beast of Kandahar” by aviation journalist Bill Sweetman, has since been spotted in South Korea and also played a role in the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May.

Analysts say the RQ-170 could scout out Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear facilities. With the U.S. and Israel threatening to attack Tehran’s nuke sites to prevent the regime from gaining nuclear weapons, reports of RQ-170s flying over Iran should not shock anyone.

Still, the shoot-down claim, published last week by the official Islamic Republic News Agency and echoed by Iran’s Press TV, should be taken with a giant grain of salt.

 Iran frequently announces it has shot down U.S. surveillance drones, but has not, to our knowledge, produced any evidence of the kills. Even if Tehran did bag itself an American war ‘bot, it might not be an RQ-170. The editors at Press TV undermined their credibility by running  the story with a photo of an entirely different drone than the Beast of Kandahar.

Equally dubious is Iran’s insistence that the RQ-170, if that’s what it is, was forced down largely intact by an Iranian army “electronic-warfare unit.” The implication is that the Iranians somehow jammed the command signal beamed to the drone by remote operators.

That’s a pretty big deal, if true. The Predator and Reaper, America’s most numerous attack and surveillance drones, are remotely-controlled via radio link by a pilot on the ground. If the link is broken, they’re designed to enter a holding pattern or even return home. But these failsafes aren’t perfect, as the Air Force discovered in 2009 when a Reaper drone went haywire and had to be shot down by an F-15. The Air Force and Navy have admitted that the control link represents a critical weakness and have worked hard to make drones more autonomous.

Serious, widespread autonomy is for the next generation of drones. Most of today’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles can probably be jammed, but before now no one has succeeded in actually doing it — again, if Iran’s claims are true.

iframe>

But even if Iran did force down an American drone, it’s unlikely it was an RQ-170. The Beast of Kandahar probably navigates autonomously, like Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk does — in contrast to the less sophisticated, remote-controlled Predators and Reapers. NATO acknowledged losing a UAV in western Afghanistan last week. “The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status,” NATO explained in a press release.

That the operators “lost control” indicates the drone in question was not an RQ-170. And NATO losing a robot is not the same as Iran possessing it intact.

Update Dec. 5, 7:20 p.m. Even if the Iranians did capture an intact RQ-170 — 50-percent likely, according to some experts — there’s little to learn from reverse-engineering it, as the drone’s sensors are already outdated, according to Sweetman and Dave Fulghum, writing in Aviation Week. “Systems now moving into an operational role [that] are scores of times more effective than the [RQ-170] Sentinel’s full-motion video,” they wrote. “Now, the single-sensor capability is being multiplied by 65 times, resulting in an exponential increase in data.”

Photo: Via Secret Projects

Source, YouTube video
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults. 
We at Wonders of Pakistan use copyrighted material the use of which may not have always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” only. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.
Advertisements

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://wondersofpakistan.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/did-iran-capture-a-u-s-stealth-drone-intact/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] 1. Did Iran Capture a U.S. Stealth Drone Intact? […]

  2. With all due respect but. YES It Proudly Did.

    • But the western media still refuse to accept that it was an RQ-170 stealth drone. Till now the US military sources had proudly been touting the RQ-170 as the beast which could not be downed or captured. That myth stands busted now. Yet US sources still refuse to recognise this reality i.e. THAT THE BEAST OF KANDAHAR HAS ULTIMATELY BEEN HUNTED DOWN [BY IRAN].

  3. And Iran has consented to transfer the beast to Pakistan so that it can be replicated. Its a big deal for Pakistan.

    • Dr. AKT, Looks you are close to some intel-network to extract such sensitive information from Iran!!!

  4. […] 1. The Dead Drone sketch 2. Did Iran Capture a U.S. Stealth Drone Intact? […]

  5. […] 1. Death from the sky  2. The Dead Drone sketch 3. Did Iran Capture a U.S. Stealth Drone Intact? […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: