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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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No excuse for the drone remaining intact....
By Movieman420 on 12/7/2011 1:48:00 PM , Rating: 2
I find it insane that our most advanced war tech like this drone and the stealth helo that crashed in the BinLaden raid is not equipped with the ultimate failsafe...the ability for us to send a signal that will cause a self destruct in the event it gets downed over enemy airspace. The SEALs had to blow up the helo themselves before extraction. Even if the drones main communication is down there should be a backup receiver that can still receive and execute a self destruct order...say 10 lbs of C4 would do the trick nicely.

RE: No excuse for the drone remaining intact....
By autoboy on 12/7/2011 2:29:23 PM , Rating: 2
Because if there was such a fail safe and it fell into the wrong hands they could destroy all our aircraft with the push of a single button. The negatives far outweigh the advantages.

RE: No excuse for the drone remaining intact....
By ekv on 12/7/2011 2:35:54 PM , Rating: 2
I was wondering about that. Good answer. So basically you need to locate the downed aircraft, feed the GPS coordinates to the ICBM guys and have them blow it up? Or something to that effect.

By Netjak on 12/8/2011 9:49:22 AM , Rating: 2
ICBM is not an option against any rogue state because it will start war.
Btw, most valuable tech inside this drones is actually outside - system integration, not engine, sensors or frame. Stealth reconnaissance can be done easy, with DIY tools and of the shelf components. But, actually using that info in real time, and having means to do something about it is another story. They don't have that capability.
so, drone is mostly useless for them.

By JediJeb on 12/7/2011 6:05:53 PM , Rating: 2
Or worse you have something like the stealth helicopter in the binLaden raid and something misfires and you blow up an entire Seal Team by accident. Honestly I would prefer to lose a little tech more than lives. But for a drone, yea some type of self destruct would be nice.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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