Pentagon/Analysts Believe RQ-170 Stealth Drone Malfunctioned, Wasn't Shot Down by Iran
December 7, 2011 12:33 PM
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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.
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.
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12/8/2011 10:25:45 AM
His inane comment about a software problem rendering a captured drone useless, apparently implying that the drone could somehow be USED by the Iranians if only it's software was fully functional (wrong!) while apparently ignoring the non-functional drone's value as an intelligence asset, his comment that this nearly public domain level stealth tech drone (in case of just such an incident:
couldn't possibly be seen on radar (wrong!
and that because of its stealth characteristics it couldn't be "cyber attacked" when in fact any attack was more likely electronic interference of some kind using a Russian Avtobaza ground-based electronic intelligence and jamming system that was delivered to Iran
just six weeks ago
inspired me to look up his organization in Wikipedia. Not impressed.
On the jamming thing, I'd wager that the drones are programmed to automatically return to their launch site if they experience technical problems and may even be programmed to fly a route with no required control comms from their launch site, so this may indeed be just a case of a malfunction causing a crash. However, either the person who wrote this article misinterpreted what this guy said or the guy has no idea what he's talking about.
"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki
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