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RQ-170 Sentinel  (Source:
However, a Lexington Institute analyst said that all signs point to the RQ-170 Sentinel as the missing drone

Analysts and Pentagon officials have placed serious doubts on Iran's claims to have shot down a stealthy U.S. aircraft earlier this week, saying that the craft likely experienced mechanical malfunctions instead.

On Sunday, Iran claimed that its military shot down a stealthy unmanned RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance aircraft which is now in its possession. Iran later said that it used a cyber attack to bring the aircraft down, and that it is "largely intact," but it has not provided any evidence of either claim.

According to Lexington Institute analyst Loren Thompson, there was no evidence that the drone was brought down using physical activity. Thompson added that using cyber warfare to bring down the aircraft was unlikely as well because it is a stealth drone.

"It would be almost impossible for Iran to shoot down an RQ-170 because it is stealthy; therefore, the Iranian air defenses can't see it," said Thompson. "Partly for the same reason, it is exceedingly unlikely that they used a cyber attack to bring down the aircraft."

While the Pentagon may disagree with how the drone was brought down, it's not arguing that an aircraft is indeed missing. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)-Afghanistan, said that he cannot confirm if the missing aircraft is a RQ-170.

However, Thompson said that all signs point to the RQ-170 Sentinel as the missing drone. He added that the Sentinel likely malfunctioned and crashed, and was probably not shot down or attacked in any way by Iran. The fact that the drone was lost indicates that there was likely a software problem.

If this is the case, Iran has a useless weapon on its hand. Many worried that the Iranian military could extract secrets behind U.S. military technologies by possessing the drone, but with hardware or software malfunctions, the aircraft is useless in providing what they're looking for.

Even if the Sentinel is useless at this point, the crash has raised doubts about the use of unmanned stealth drones and their abilities.

Source: Defense News

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RE: Useless?
By Spuke on 12/7/2011 1:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I don't see why (or maybe they do), they don't have a redundant fail safes on board that do the best they can to self destruct under certain circumstances.
Sometimes it doesn't work.

RE: Useless?
By PrinceGaz on 12/7/2011 3:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
The whole point of redundant fail-safes is that one of them will almost certainly work, especially in a drone where the default action if all contact is lost/sensors disabled or malfunctioning/etc should really be to self-destruct.

I find it difficult to imagine a scenario where a drone would be unable to self-destruct, assuming it did have independent self-destruct systems onboard to prevent the technology falling into enemy hands.

RE: Useless?
By Ringold on 12/7/2011 3:12:36 PM , Rating: 3
I'm really buying the trojan horse/fake crash idea. That there wasn't a self-destruct, that they found it largely intact, and that we didnt send some sort of black ops team to recover/destroy it (or just a cruise missile) makes me suspicious.

Heh. Perhaps they planted a USB stick labeled "Miniaturized Nuclear Warhead Design For Dummies" in it, complete with another Stuxnet-style virus. :P

Or maybe the military actually messed up. By the time the truth comes out, we'll all be much older.

RE: Useless?
By wordsworm on 12/7/2011 7:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
By the time the truth comes out, we'll all be much older.

You're optimistic.

RE: Useless?
By fteoath64 on 12/16/2011 4:03:28 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe a failsafe self-destruct is only active during a crash impact like using a "crash-sensor" but this thing landed by itself so did not crash. There you go, not designed into.

Besides, military probably did not include any self-destruct into the craft since they never expected any to be captured. Besides, any self-destruct mechanism, if malfunctioned will be disastrous to their home crew!. At the cost of at least $25M a piece, this is just surveillance equipment.

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