« Last debate before Iowa | Main | Give back the drone? »

December 15, 2011


In every article about this situation, they keep mentioning that the US asked for is back. Are they for real?? There is no chance in hell that Iran is giving it up.

I fully support the US' covert operations, but you have to be realistic about it when you are caught red handed.

The strategic implications of this story are stupefying. The ability to send false GPS signals and to redirect drones applies to all of our aircraft and most missiles and bombs. Nearly everything in our arsenal uses GPS from F22s to smart bombs. The only things not affected are ICBMs, which use gyroscopic navigation.

The only thing limiting the Iranian breakthrough is the number of drone/aircraft/missile targets that can be engaged at any one time. A determined country with a very large military budget and lots of computers and transmitters can neutralize most if not all of our air-based forces.

Strategically, this is a worse defeat than Pearl Harbor. It's more like Stalingrad.

Here's a slightly more reliable source than Debka or an "Iranian Engineer"


[HS: Seems to me like the person in question has a strong motivation for lying, and the documents that would allow me to determine the truth myself are all classified.]

Its quite possible that they jammed the signal and it went into an auto-land sequence. Its quite unlikely they did any reprogramming of anything. So I say that article is 50% truth, 50% exaggerating of Iranian capabilities.

As an electrical engineer, it would seem to me to be quite easy to spoof GPS, given corporate or state resources. The signal specifications are public knowledge. The motivations for this technology are counter measures to GPS guided munitions. The main problem of GPS re. this application is that it does not support digital signature authentication, they are just beacons, so there is no way of knowing whether you are receiving the true satellite signals, or fake local signals. Most of our weapons systems seem to have been developed for convenience in engaging low tech adversaries.

"[HS: Seems to me like the person in question has a strong motivation for lying, and the documents that would allow me to determine the truth myself are all classified.]"

Oh please. And the Iranians -- THE IRANIANS! -- do NOT have a strong motivation for lying? Why do you insist we need classified documents to verify what the US government says but not for what the Iranian government says?

Tale of RQ-170 Hijack In Doubt as Told in Tehran
Posted by David A. Fulghum at 12/16/2011 1:48 PM CST

Purported Iranian engineering specialists have been taking liberties with the laws of physics in their descriptions of an electronic hijacking of the RQ-170 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, say U.S. analysts.

Holes in the account start with the fact that it took days for the Iranians to discover the lost aircraft. In fact, intelligence officials at one point thought the Iranians might simply never stumble across the crash site because it was in such a remote and uninhabited part of northeastern Iran.

Electronic attack of the Sentinel is “certainly possible, but there’s no indication that they even knew it had crashed in Iran for some time,” says a veteran black-projects manager.

That scenario is validated by an aerospace industry ISR specialist, who agreed that “if they were not aware [of the Sentinel’s presence in Iran for days], then there is no reason to believe they had any semblance of control.”

And then there are technical issues that make a hijacking, as described by the Iranians, unlikely.

“Among the reasons to doubt the claim that GPS jamming had anything to do with the loss of the RQ-170 is a simple overlooked fact,” says a third U.S. analyst. “GPS is not the primary navigation sensor for the RQ-170 or for most other air vehicles. The vehicle gets its flight path orders from an inertial navigation system, which is essentially unjammable unless you want to monkey with the local gravitational field. The GPS updates the INS and cancels its drift. So, even a full GPS blackout would simply cause the vehicle to be a bit less accurate,” he adds.

“If the GPS was ‘spoofed’ with a fake signal — and even JDAMs have anti-spoofing GPS receivers today, so that might be difficult — any abrupt change in the GPS reading would cause the Kalman filters in the GPS/INS to conclude that the GPS was malfunctioning and cut it out of the loop,” he says.

The comments to this entry are closed.