Thursday, August 25, 2016


Iran Shows Footage Of Captured U.S. Drone

Footage of the RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude stealth drone was shown on Iranian state TV.
Footage of the RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude stealth drone was shown on Iranian state TV.
By Heather Maher
Iranian television has broadcast a video of a U.S. drone that Tehran claims to have brought down on its territory, and it's probably safe to say that the images are the stuff of U.S. intelligence officials' nightmares.

Iranian officials subsequently appealed to the United Nations over the alleged violation of its airspace by the unmanned craft, urging the organization to condemn the purported U.S. action and prevent future incidents in the future.

In the video, two men dressed in Iranian military uniforms poke and prod at the small, bat-winged aircraft. One gestures to a wing and appears to be explaining something to a decorated superior.

But what? Possibly what until now were highly guarded U.S. advances in covert intelligence gathering.

A banner at the foot of the aircraft in the video reads, "The U.S. cannot do a damn thing," which is a direct quotation from Iran's late supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran's alleged capture of the drone represents more than just a huge propaganda prize for the regime, which has long been hostile to the United States. It also could be a bonanza of secret U.S. military technology so sensitive that U.S. officials briefly considered going into Iran to try and retrieve the downed aircraft, according to a report in "The Wall Street Journal." The operation was rejected as too risky.

U.S officials have acknowledged the loss of the plane, but a Pentagon spokesman told reporters on December 8 that officials were "not going to talk about these kinds of missions and these kinds of capabilities."

But U.S. and foreign officials briefed on the matter told the "The New York Times" that the RQ-170 Sentinel drone was at the center of a secret program to gather information on possible Iranian nuclear sites.

Top-Secret Treasure Trove

The same day that the Iranian drone video surfaced, U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated his commitment to working with the international community to "prevent" Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons if they are indeed pursuing them, as many Western governments have concluded but Tehran denies.

"If they [Iran] are pursuing nuclear weapons, then I have said very clearly: That is contrary to the national security interests of the United States, it is contrary to the national security interests of our allies, including Israel, and we are going to work with the world community to prevent that," Obama said in remarks intended in part to address criticism from the field of aspiring Republican contenders in next year's presidential election.

The United States has used satellites for years to gather intelligence on Iran, which it believes is hiding a nuclear weapons program. But Jason Campbell, a military analyst with the RAND Corporation, says the RQ-170 possesses new and unique capabilities that take covert intelligence gathering to a new level.

"What makes this particular drone quite useful, from an intelligence perspective, is that it can fly at extremely high altitudes -- reportedly up to 50,000 feet. It is capable of staying in the air for hours at a time, which is a luxury you don't have with satellite imagery. [It has] multiple sensors on it; it can intercept electronic communications, it can take air samples to detect whether or not there is any chemicals or other unusual things in the air that might lead one to believe that there is, in the case of Iran, a nuclear program that is active in the area," Campbell says.

"And it also takes what's called 'full-motion video' on the ground, where you're not just taking pictures of hardened targets, you're able to see the comings and goings of individuals and other movement on the ground, which is, again a capability that isn't offered by satellite."

The fear is that Iran, and its close allies China and Russia, will be able to learn and copy those capabilities.

Analysts say the most valuable technology on the drone is probably its ability to detect and gather a vast array of information as it hovers or flies undetected over targets. Its radar capability may also be much more advanced than either Beijing or Moscow has developed, they say.

Not everything about the RQ-170 Sentinel UAV, which stands for unmanned aerial vehicle, is secret. The first photos of it became public two years ago, and showed it sitting on a U.S. air base in Afghanistan. Its shape is based on the B-2 stealth bomber, which has been in use by the U.S. military since 1997, including during the war between Kosovo and Serbia in 1999 and in U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Did Iran Shoot It Down?

There are competing versions of how the drone ended up on the ground. The chief of the air force of Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, General Ami Ali Hajizadeh, said on December 8 that his forces had brought the aircraft down with an electronic ambush. U.S. officials dismiss that scenario and blame an aircraft malfunction.

When something goes wrong during a drone flight, RAND's Campbell says it is programmed to automatically return to base. But in this instance, he says, something didn't go according to plan.

"We don't know at this point if there has been some sort of a self-destruct mechanism that kicked in, as it should have, but given that many of these drones, particularly this one, is programmed to automatically return to base should there be a satellite disruption -- which is usually the cause of some of these missteps -- the fact that that wasn't engaged, it may suggest that the self-destruct mechanism wasn't activated," Campbell says.

At least one military expert suggested the Iranians might be bluffing. John Pike, an analyst for the website, says the drone that was shown on Iranian TV looked like "a parade-float model" rather than the high-tech robotic surveillance aircraft itself, and speculated that it was "a mock-up."

Since the plane's weekend disappearance, analysts and some U.S. officials have said that they don't think it's possible to reverse-engineer the plane's systems and learn how to replicate it. They have also said that the data the drone collected before it crashed is probably unretrievable.

That's no doubt what U.S. officials hope.

"Unfortunately," the RAND Corporation's Campbell says, "We'll probably never know the full story."

Iranian state television said on December 9 that Iran's UN ambassador in New York, Mohammad Khazaei, had sent a letter to the UN Security Council and General Assembly urging them to condemn "these dangerous and illegal acts" and prevent similar violations in the future.

with additional agency material
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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: to US military
December 08, 2011 20:56
To careless US military, read again:

by: Anonymous
December 09, 2011 03:43
Wonderful, what an infuriating waste of my tax money! Not only is my government infiltrating sovereign states its not at war with, and isn't in any way threatened by, it can't even keep it's multi-million or billion dollar technology in it's own hands!!! I can't describe how disappointed I am in Barack Obama. What is the difference between him and Bush? He repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell. Big whoop. I'm never voting for a republican or democrat again, that's for sure.
In Response

by: Jake Steeley from: Franklin MA
December 09, 2011 09:29
You really believe that Obama is directing every single covert activity in the military.? Only a fool would think that one person pulls the strings on things like this. Obama, like every other President regardless of party, would be (and has been) keeping an eye on Iran.
In Response

by: Steve
December 09, 2011 09:37
You probably only contributed 10 cents of your tax dollars to this plane.
In Response

by: Adam from: po
December 10, 2011 05:34
~2.5 billion dollar aircraft,
134.4 million tax payers,
You undershot by 18900%

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 09, 2011 12:03







by: Kathleen from: Chicago metro
December 09, 2011 04:42
Note to the author: War between Kosovo and Serbia in 1999? No such place in 1999. It should be "the 1999 illegal NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo province without a UN Security Council resolution" or how about "the 1999 NATO war of aggression on former Yugoslavia under humanitarian pretexts to build Bondsteel, the largest military base in the Balkans."

The photograph of the drone is thought provoking. How was it landed without breaking up? It does not appear to have been a crash landing…
In Response

by: Viktor Frul from: Ukraine
December 09, 2011 09:57
The drone has been landed forcefully by an electronic system. That is why it looks like new.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
December 10, 2011 02:12
If it was so, the lanching unit probably worked
for Russia, or it was landed not by Iran but by Russia or China, using technology stolen from
the West, or ideas plagiarised from someone
like me.
In Response

by: Robert from: Moorpark, CA
December 09, 2011 14:05
Let go with "America's contribution to stopping genocide in the region."

That was still important despite any benefits America realized afterward.

by: trojan from: earth
December 09, 2011 08:23
its a trojan drone. i'd be carefull with it.

by: The Ronbot Hunter from: Florida
December 09, 2011 08:48
At what point is this madness enough? We are headed straight to WW3.
I would not doubt that the Corporation called the U.S. Federal government would spread lies. They have done it before. But the fact is that the whole world has had enough of the madness from their own politicians wanting a WW3 to kill halve the world.
There is a formula to end wars, and that is to investigate to find the real source, real cause of our problems and stop them.

In Response

by: Kathleen from: Chicago metro
December 10, 2011 02:47
The wool grew out of my forehead and over my eyes, totally obscuring my vision. One day, I bumped into something called blind hatred. So, I decided something had to be done. My forehead was sheared into the cutest brush cut, and my eyes started to seek facts, truth and history. Dumb as sheep, even so I was then able to see clearly enough to find these:
On Libya
On NATO's doings
On Iran
On the breakup of the former Yugoslavia – how many =genocide??
How operation storm destabilized the Balkans
On Yugoslavia+Caspian Sea Oil plans
To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia Michael Parenti
Media Lies and the Conquest of Kosovo Michel Collon
Fools Crusade Diana Johnstone
On all of the above topics and Syria as well:

Other sheep tried to stop me, calling these things opinion pieces! editorials! conspiracy theorists! Commies! But once the wool was sheared, I could see other fields had sheep. So it didn’t phase me one bit.
For the peace of the whole world, Kathleen
In Response

by: zeke
December 12, 2011 14:58
You obviously are hurt by the fact that Serbs were the aggressors in the Balkan wars. Get over it and stop being so defensive. Just because Serbs committed crimes against humanity doesn't make all people of Serbian descent guilty. Why are so many Serbian-Americans/Australians so denialist?

by: L.J. from: Chicago
December 09, 2011 08:55
There is absolutely no possibility that the drone was "given" to Iran and the U.S. still has satalite contact with the unit and has unknown "basic" electronics and payload.

by: hall from: uk
December 09, 2011 09:27
with all the usa tecnolgy...why cant the usa remotely have have a system of self destruct built in to the no good to anyone then.the machine looks very tidy considering it has supposedly crashed.if i was a iranian i wouldn,y go near it

by: ronnie from: sidney
December 09, 2011 09:43
i smell conflict...

by: justin from: n
December 09, 2011 12:40
to not destroy this drone at all costs is treason and treachery to our country! oboma should resign if not be tried for treason.

by: leonard hevian from: google
December 09, 2011 12:56
This s a " galaxy war style "
"Experts " said : it cant be shoot down cos the way it look.
But what about steal the electronic control or that drone?
May be, was landed in Iran for some new generation of youngs " kids wisards in computer ingenering.
Why not? We are using more electronics devices than ever,so is not goin to be a exeption of used of westers countries.
They state very clear that it was a ' electronic ambush' that for me is meaning,they confuse the control fly sistem on that american drone. They,the iranians,have run out of bullets to fight those high fly drones,so they study and manage a new war class electronic s defense.
Time will tell.
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