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RQ-170 Sentinel
Middle Eastern power hopes to use capture U.S. stealth drone to further its own UAV ambitions

It remains one of the highest profile embarrassments of the U.S. Armed Forces and Intelligence community in recent years: the loss of the RQ-170 spy drone to the Iranian army.

I. Iran Claims to Have Cracked Drone's Encrypted Data Files

While the U.S. still claims that it was a technical malfunction that downed the drone, many defense experts were swayed by Iran's detailed explanation of how it jammed U.S. control signals and duped the drone into think it was performing a landing in a similar altitude home base.

The daring kidnapping sent the U.S. backpedalling after initially claiming the incident could be a hoax.  The Iranian black op drew criticism from U.S. President Obama, who demanded the drone back.  Iran agreed to return a drone, but then mockingly offered to give the POTUS a pink toy drone, versus the captured flyer.

Now Iran is vocalizing once more, claiming it's cracking into the flyer's encrypted software.  

States Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division on state-run television (as reported by The Defense News), "I am giving you four codes so the Americans understand just how far we have gone in penetrating the drone’s secrets.  In October 2010, the aircraft was sent to California for some technical issues, where it was repaired and, after flight tests, it was taken to Kandahar (in Afghanistan) in November 2010, when a series of technical problems still prevailed.  In December 2010, it was sent to an airport near Los Angeles for repair of its equipment and sensors, and flight tests. The drone was then sent back to Kandahar."
 
Obama upset
Iran has refused President Obama's demands that it return the drone.
[Image Source: Matt Ortega/Flickr]

The comments indicate that the Iranians may have gained access to the flyer's encrypted flight logs.  While that wouldn't necessarily be as damaging as if they gained access to the core control logic, it raises the question of how many secrets they'll be able to extract from the captured U.S. air-bot.

Iran's captured drone
Iran is working to copy the downed drone and crack its data, logic files.[Image Source: Reuters]

II. Senior Senator Lieberman Blows Off Claims

Iran's claims have been countered by Leon Panetta, although he has not formally denied that Iran cracked the flyer's logs.  U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, was also quick to mock the comments as "Iranian bluster", remarking, "There is some history here of Iranian bluster, particularly now when they’re on the defensive because of our economic sanctions against them."

Joe Lieberman
Sen. Joe Lieberman called the claims "Iranian bluster" [Image Source: Salon.com]

The loss of the drone is a sore subject, particularly amid Iran's claims that it will produce copies of the drone.  Gen. Hajizadeh brags, "This aircraft is a national treasure for us, and I cannot divulge [more details] about it.  [But we will] started producing a copy of the RQ-170 drone."

Iran has been working on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for several years now, according to U.S. intelligence.

The edge the captured design could give it is a big headache to the U.S. as reportedly the stealth technology in the drone -- which was captured on a special U.S. Central Intelligence Agency mission -- is similar to that used in American stealth fighters and bombers.  Amid Iran's suspected nuclear ambitions, there's much concern about how far the nation could get technologically.

The Middle Eastern giant may be relatively hostile to the west, but it's also a fast developing technology power.  While it's struggled with economic challenges in recent years, it produces over a million cars a year -- the most of any Middle Eastern nation.  Aside from being the region's manufacturing capital, Iran also publishes more peer-reviewed research yearly than any other nation in the Middle East.  In short, Iran may be a hostile power and be a bit behind the U.S. on the tech curve, but they're by no means clueless.

Iranian TV
Iran has been gunning for UAVs for years now. [Image Source: Iranian state television]

It should be interesting to see who's right -- Gen. Hajizadeh or Sen. Lieberman.


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Moral of the story...
By quiksilvr on 4/23/2012 2:53:13 PM , Rating: 4
Self-destruct button.




RE: Moral of the story...
By Natch on 4/23/12, Rating: 0
RE: Moral of the story...
By TSS on 4/23/2012 3:36:58 PM , Rating: 2
This is not a stealth jet. This is a stealth drone. The big difference being it has a CPU mind that will do whatever it's told.

Americans told it to land, the iranians simply said it was in a different place then it thought it was. Quite ingenious if you ask me. The reason why nothing was bombed it is because there wasn't anything in the vicinity to bomb it before it got towerd away - this was a carefully planned raid. Not many people will know where it actually is by now.

You're dealing with persians here, not a couple of arabs. There's a difference, and you'd better acknowledge it if you wanna go on the warpath.


RE: Moral of the story...
By Mitch101 on 4/23/2012 4:07:06 PM , Rating: 3
Well, now, uh, Launcelot, Galahad, and I, uh, wait until nightfall, and then leap out of the drone, taking the Iranians, uh, by surprise. Not only by surprise, but totally unarmed!


RE: Moral of the story...
By GotThumbs on 4/23/2012 5:25:26 PM , Rating: 4
Could this be a gift from a secret admirer? Far fetched, but I'm so surprised they didn't give it back when Obama has been such a kiss-a$$. Could it be that He's NOT seen as a threat?

Personally, if Newt was in the chair....this would not be a story today. IMO. I don't necessarily agree with Newts personal leanings, but National Leadership should ONLY focus on Economic and national security. Let the citizens work out the personal preferences locally.


RE: Moral of the story...
By wordsworm on 4/24/2012 12:08:48 AM , Rating: 5
If Ron Paul was president, this wouldn't be a story because the craft never would have gone to Iran in the first place.


RE: Moral of the story...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/24/2012 2:10:08 AM , Rating: 1
If Ron Paul were President Iran would probably be flying drones over the US instead. Yeah that's so much better lol.

If Ron Paul were President, Bin Ladin would undoubtedly still be alive. 100% fact.

Economically the guy has it figured out. But military and foreign policy? He's like a naive kid who thinks everyone just wants a big hug.


RE: Moral of the story...
By StevoLincolnite on 4/24/2012 10:24:10 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
If Ron Paul were President Iran would probably be flying drones over the US instead. Yeah that's so much better lol.


He knows the difference though between defense spending and military spending, something which allot of politicians (And people!) get muddled up.

He wants to cut down on the military spending plain and simple and remove your collective butts from around the world and improve your defense at home.
You save money, you save lives and improve the defense at home.
Didn't the US spend like over a Billion dollars on an Embassy in Baghdad? I think that was a little wasteful for example.
That's a Billion dollars saved that could have gone into reducing the 14+ trillion deficit. - Which ultimately the US citizen ends up paying with more taxes.


RE: Moral of the story...
By StevoLincolnite on 4/24/2012 10:25:47 AM , Rating: 3
Also I forgot to add.. If Ron Paul was so "backwards" when it came to military policy, I highly doubt he would be so heavily backed by military personnel.
They obviously agree with him and they're the ones putting their lives at risk.


RE: Moral of the story...
By wordsworm on 4/25/2012 7:03:21 PM , Rating: 2
It's the military *investors* who hate Paul. Folks who have money to make from prolonged conflict hate Paul. The soldiers know that Paul is right. They want to go home and spend their lives in service defending America, not bombing and killing primitive cultures back into the stone age.

Some folks just like the idea of killing Muslims. That's what it's really all about. Some of them believe that when all Muslims are dead, and blacks have lost the right to vote or live or study alongside whitey, then we'll have peace. That's the right wing. Ron Paul is the exception to the rule, and the guy who puts hope in the hearts of millions of Americans, and millions outside of America.

Ron Paul keeps saying that he has no reason to give up. Well, he knows what he's doing.


RE: Moral of the story...
By chµck on 4/24/2012 1:43:05 PM , Rating: 2
Ron Paul is the only candidate that has served in the military. - Airforce
Obama - Never Served
Romney - Deferment from draft as a Mormon
Gingrich - Deferment from draft
Bachmann - lol


RE: Moral of the story...
By wordsworm on 4/25/2012 7:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure Bachmann put out for a lot of servicemen... so, don't put down her contribution to the military. lol.


RE: Moral of the story...
By wordsworm on 4/24/2012 2:03:21 PM , Rating: 1
So, you think going after the Taliban after being attacked by Al Qaeda was the smart thing to do? Going into Afghanistan even though most of the terrorists came from Saudi Arabia was real genius!

If Ron Paul had been president instead of Bush II, he would have worked at improving homeland defence, and maybe that would have been enough to stop 9/11 altogether. He would have brought all those forces deployed all over the world home along with the CIA and made sure that they were defending Americans rather than trying to police the world.

With Ron Paul as president instead of Bush II, there never would have been a 9/11, and the world we live in today would be a lot better. You certainly wouldn't have the ridiculous debt levels you do now. Obama had the hell of a mess to clean up after Bush II. I had my doubts whether he could pull it off or not, and maybe it looks like he couldn't. But McCain sure as hell wouldn't have done any better of a job. The only guy that can save America that has any chance of becoming president right now is Paul. There's no way in hell Romney would win against Obama, despite the dirty games that his team plays.


RE: Moral of the story...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/24/2012 5:42:04 PM , Rating: 1
You can't "defend" against terrorism unless you plan on turning the country into a police state entirely. Closed borders, Soviet Union style "papers" checkpoints, profiling, random roundups and interrogations, the whole nine yards. Sound good to you? No thank you.

The only way to defend against terrorism is to go kill the terrorists. Wherever they are, whoever they are, whenever you can. And let me tell you, we killed a CRAPLOAD of terrorists and nearly EVERY terrorist leader all the way up to Bin Ladin. For every American lost on 9/11 we killed 100 of them. And I don't miss any sleep over it.

quote:
With Ron Paul as president instead of Bush II, there never would have been a 9/11, and the world we live in today would be a lot better. You certainly wouldn't have the ridiculous debt levels you do now.


The deficit was $430 billion when Bush left office. Obama tippled that in his first year. Sorry but this debt isn't the result of any wartime policy or action of Bush II.

quote:
The only guy that can save America that has any chance of becoming president right now is Paul.


That's comical because the man has never even come close to winning the nomination. How in the hell is the only guy who has a chance of becoming president the one who's NEVER come close? Win a nomination first before you claim he's the one to beat please.

You exhibit the idolatry of Ron Paul that so many of his supporters do. You've raised him to the level of a deity, able to singlehandedly without any major party backing eliminate all the evils and wrongs of the country in just 4 years. Is there a party or ideology that you support, I'm just curious. Or will we be crowning a king, King Paul the First of America?

If Ron Paul were to die tomorrow, does any and ALL efforts to return this country back to the Constitution die with him? Where will you go? Who will you follow?

Ron Paul speaks good and is obviously very intelligent. But beyond that, I think he attracts a bunch of apathetic slackers who don't want to bother with the political process or identify with an ideology. "Just vote for him because umm he'll like do all that stuff he says and fix everything...somehow...who cares, just vote for him." That's what you sound like.


RE: Moral of the story...
By wordsworm on 4/25/2012 6:54:45 PM , Rating: 2
I said Ron Paul is America's only hope. I didn't say he was going to win. The Republican party is doing everything it can to make sure he doesn't win, and it seems like they'll succeed.

Obama did his best to prevent the destruction of banks (and those who depend on those banks, not just those millionaires), of some of America's greatest industries (see auto manufacturing). I don't know if I agree with his methodology. I'm hoping he'll be able to turn it around in his second term coming up next year. As much as Obama has done, I concede that Ron Paul would have done, and may do, a better job.

It's a crying shame that Bush I and Reagan put so much debt on the shoulders of America. It's a shame that Bush II did the same. And, it's a shame that Obama's doing the same. If they hadn't driven America into debt, America would be laughing and enjoying great prosperity. The only guy who's got a chance right now is Paul, even if it is a small chance.

In reference to terrorism, the only way to stop it is for the cold war to get hot and everyone to die. Attacking countries and killing people year-after-year who had nothing to do with 9/11 is just plain stupid. I'd hoped Obama would have ended those jokes for wars, but we're still continuing the futile campaign.


RE: Moral of the story...
By Samus on 4/24/2012 7:04:51 PM , Rating: 2
All I can say, is good luck Iran. You're regime is a global joke.


RE: Moral of the story...
By amanojaku on 4/23/12, Rating: 0
RE: Moral of the story...
By ClownPuncher on 4/23/2012 3:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
The Three Stooges of Security. Well done.


RE: Moral of the story...
By Integral9 on 4/23/2012 3:50:57 PM , Rating: 5
self destruct it w/ a bacon bomb.


RE: Moral of the story...
By bah12 on 4/23/2012 4:36:34 PM , Rating: 2
Except if they hacked it like they've claimed too. By all intents and purposes the drone "landed" on a US field. Why explode if you made it home.

If they did indeed do it as claimed it was pretty ingenious.


RE: Moral of the story...
By Pneumothorax on 4/23/2012 4:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
Moral of the story... Hope your current president just got caught with his pants down with an intern at the WH, so your threshold to bomb would've been much lower and this drone would already be thousands of pieces.


RE: Moral of the story...
By IranTech on 4/24/2012 12:27:16 PM , Rating: 2
The Guard commander that broke the news of deciphering the plane from head to tow, confirmed that there is no self destruct button on the RQ170. No explosives on the plane to self-destruct. The designers where so sure of their work that they did not see a need for self destruction scenarios.


RE: Moral of the story...
By The Raven on 4/24/2012 4:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
No, they had one of those on Spaceball 1... and look how that turned out.


By SkierInAvon on 4/23/2012 2:53:50 PM , Rating: 3
It is easy to believe that our friends the (Chinese? and Russians? and more?) would enjoy a ‘look-see’ at the technology in this RQ-170 drone.
Easy to imagine the Chinese have an army of computer hackers ready to deploy to Iran – should the Iranians need a little help with their encryption decoding…
Real Security Threat to the U.S. could be “who else has got their hands on this technology?” It could be very unpleasant to learn that in the future…
Just a thought…




By Ringold on 4/23/2012 10:00:43 PM , Rating: 2
ICBMs? Ah, impressive! At least, it would be if American's hadn't designed them half a century ago, without the benefit of so much as a calculator.

The rules have hardly changed; they rules of warfare virtually never change. It's tactics and numbers. The Chinese have built up additional numbers of forces designed to try to counter US advantages; specifically, they've arrayed their investments in a way to try to deny America access to areas off its coast, extending to Japan, to keep US carrier battlegroups at bay long enough to rape Taiwan.

They're cunning, but lets not make them sound any more impressive than the cunning communist dogs that they are.


By Strunf on 4/24/2012 7:44:24 AM , Rating: 2
America got the ICBMs from the Germans scientists after WWII...


By geddarkstorm on 4/24/2012 1:42:46 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed we did. That whole era of German scientists were just ungodly brilliant for their day, from Einstein to Wernher von Braun. It isn't that we Americans didn't have some brilliant scientists too, like Oppenheimer. But... maybe there was just something in all that German drinking water.


By fteoath64 on 4/25/2012 7:46:38 AM , Rating: 2
Too late!. The "secret plans" that Iran got from the Drone are already in China and Russia re-engineering a better drone without the "cut-corners" that LockHeed did with a few people. The drone cost at least $50M and is a prototype/alpha model. It could not have a self-destruct because it would be risky to have that blown up by mistake. Happens in the battle-field all the time as they say ....
This drone being stealth was never intended to be lost or captured, as the military was confident they can recover it in case of a malfunction. Again $50M worth of kit!.
Bet none of the servers in the craft have any form of encryption. Remember it was in alpha/prototype form. Always recoverable was pretty much the thinking.Only the radio channel was encrypted and maybe a military gps channel as well. Everything on board pretty much unsecured. It was not designed to protect itself.


No Fail-Safe?
By Movieman420 on 4/23/2012 9:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously this is an uber screw up of epic proportions. That being said, I'm absolutely stupified if there wasn't a 'separate from the system' self destruct fail safe of some type. Even if it didn't involve a big detonation there should at least be a mech to destroy the computer hardware/software via an external, manually sent signal to a receiver that is NOT tied into the on board computer itself...something 'low-tech' and dependable...a couple of ounces of C4 would due nicely. In the event the craft is shielded from external signal, maybe a trigger if it isn't able to phone home for X number of hours. Something...anything! They may have gotten into the flight log but there is NO way they've cracked military grade hardware/software encryption that makes standard 256 bit AES crypto look like child's play.




RE: No Fail-Safe?
By Ringold on 4/23/2012 10:04:13 PM , Rating: 2
Failing that, I miss the days when the US was a great power and would demand its return. If its return was denied, we'd of cratered its location. Our property; great powers don't respect "finders keepers" rules.

Now, we bend a knee and humbly ask for its return, and walk away with a pouty face when they say no. It's like we're Belgium or something.


RE: No Fail-Safe?
By Strunf on 4/24/12, Rating: 0
RE: No Fail-Safe?
By ikeke1 on 4/24/2012 2:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
...unless it's "username" and "password".

:)


um...
By kleinma on 4/23/2012 3:22:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Middle Easter power hopes to use capture U.S. stealth drone to further its own UAV ambitions


Middle Easter? Is that when Orks and Elves look for Hobbit eggs with candy inside?




RE: um...
By bobsmith1492 on 4/23/2012 3:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
It's almost a nor'easter but not quite as strong...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nor%27easter


wanna bet?
By mosu on 4/23/2012 3:01:27 PM , Rating: 1
I'll go with the general against any politician...




RE: wanna bet?
By ZorkZork on 4/23/2012 7:56:26 PM , Rating: 3
So fascism is your ideal way of government?


Might not be too much bluster
By Lerianis on 4/23/2012 10:45:09 PM , Rating: 2
Considering that military systems of other kinds have been hacked/cracked in the past.




RE: Might not be too much bluster
By CZroe on 4/24/2012 2:41:10 PM , Rating: 2
And we were the ones "blustering" about them not having it before they showed proof.


AHAHAHA
By DrChemist on 4/24/2012 12:28:10 PM , Rating: 2
I love the use of the FAKE clay model. Either way they would still be years away from ever being able to produce anything like the one that allegedly was captured. Not to mention the materials used to coat the planes.




RE: AHAHAHA
By fteoath64 on 4/25/2012 8:09:52 AM , Rating: 2
Remember, they have actual samples of the material, so to reverse engineer it is not hard unless it was "D-dot-D" material that needed to be made in space. Iran's friends are China and Russia who do not trust the US, so both those resources are 20X-50X the resources of Lockheed-Martin. Plenty of brain prowess and engineering capabilities with little or no compartmentalized secrecy!.


problem solved
By anartik on 4/24/2012 2:35:19 PM , Rating: 2
If we had someone with a spine in DC we would have immediately surgically neutralized the problem with a cruise missile right after they sent Obozo the pink toy replica.




RE: problem solved
By IranTech on 4/24/2012 2:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
Are asking for a pink toy replica of an American cruise missile?


Leiberman is senator Palpatine
By Sylar on 4/23/2012 4:18:42 PM , Rating: 3
at least in that photo he looks like he is.




Hey Lieberman
By IranTech on 4/24/2012 12:31:03 PM , Rating: 3
Senator, Iran deciphered the plane in the air. Stop bullsh...ing your constituency.




By 225commander on 4/24/2012 9:57:56 AM , Rating: 2
Hey buddy, You forgot the /Sarcasm tag,

but we appreciate your attempt at humor...

Oh and btw, over here its 'Holla Holla


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