Obama administration asks Iran to, pretty please, return the drone. Iran says up yours. Go here for story.
An Iranian engineer says Iran had hijacked the US drone, by “spoofing” it into landing in enemy territory instead of its home base in Afghanistan. Go here for story.
The era of electronic warfare is on us.
That U.S. stealth drone captured by Iran last Sunday, Dec. 4, had been brought down by an electronic warfare ambush. This confirms Tehran’s claim that the top-secret RQ-170 Sentinel was downed by a cyber attack.
DEBKAfile reports, December 8, 2011, that Iran exhibited the drone and its almost perfect condition refutes the US military contention that the Sentinel’s systems had malfunctioned. If this had happened, it would have crashed and either been wrecked or damaged.
The capture of the intact drone is a major debacle for the stealth technology the US uses in its warplanes and the drone technology developed by the US and Israel, who are now obliged to make major changes in plans for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear program.
The Obama administration’s decision after internal debate not to send US commando or air units into Iran to retrieve or destroy the secret RQ-170 stealth drone which fell into Iranian hands has strengthened the hands of the Israeli faction which argues the case for striking Iran’s nuclear installations without waiting for the Americans to make their move.
Senior Israeli diplomatic and security officials who followed the discussion in Washington concluded that, by failing to act, the administration has left Iran not only with the secrets of the Sentinel’s stealth coating, its sensors and cameras, but also with the data stored in its computer cells on targets marked out by the US and/or Israeli for attack.
Like every clandestine weapons system, the RQ-170 had a self-destruct mechanism to prevent its secrets spilling out to the enemy in the event of a crash or capture. This did not happen. Tehran claimed the spy drone was only slightly damaged when they downed it.
How did Iran know the drone had entered its airspace? How was it caused to land? Most of all, why did the craft’s self-destruct mechanism which is programmed to activate automatically fail to work? And if it malfunctioned, why was it not activated by remote control?
A senior Israeli security official had this to say: “Everything that’s happened around the RQ-170 shows that when it comes to Iran and its nuclear program, the Obama administration and Israel have different objectives. On this issue, each country needs to go its own way.”
That sounds ominous….
UPDATE (Dec. 11, 2011):
The AFP reports from Tehran that Iranian military officials confirm that the drone — displaying little damage in state media images – had not been shot down as first asserted, but rather had its controls hacked by a Revolutionary Guards cyber unit.
For their part, Obama administration officials are skeptical at Iran’s claims that it had broken through encryption technology to seize control of the aircraft, instead hypothesizing that the drone suffered a malfunction. But none was able to explain how the drone – programmed to either automatically return to its base in Afghanistan or possibly even self-destruct – was recovered by the Iranians.