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Downed RQ-170

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Avtobaza: Iran's weapon in alleged RQ-170 affair? Could this be the smoking electron in the alleged unmanned air vehicle (UAV) incident over Iran?

Avtobaza: Iran's weapon in alleged RQ-170 affair?

The original reports that Iran “shot down” a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel appear to be misleading. Iranian news agency reports credited the army’s electronic warfare unit with bringing down the UAV, but apparently in a way that limited the amount of damage on landing or impact. Only six weeks ago, Russia announced delivering the Avtobaza ground-based electronic intelligence and jamming system (shown above) to Iran.

Most Russian weapons exports to Iran are blocked, including the proposed transfer of the S-300 surface to air missile system. But there is a key difference between a SAM battery and a jamming system. The Avtobaza, moreover, is designed to jam side-looking and fire control radars on aircraft and manipulate the guidance and control systems of incoming enemy missiles. The incident, of course, has not been confirmed with visual evidence of the allegedly captured RQ-170. Did Iran hijack the 'beast'? US experts cautious about bold claims. (Video)

An Iranian claim that it used cyberwarfare techniques to hijack a US stealth drone, getting it to land in that country, drew deep skepticism from some US cyberwarfare experts who doubt Iran's ability to carry out such an operation.

Did Iran hijack the 'beast'? US experts cautious about bold claims. (Video)

Skip to next paragraph Subscribe Today to the Monitor Click Here for your FREE 30 DAYS ofThe Christian Science MonitorWeekly Digital Edition In an exclusive interview, an engineer working to unlock the secrets of the captured RQ-170 Sentinel says they exploited a known vulnerability and tricked the US drone into landing in Iran. Iran gained control of the drone by overwhelming the GPS signal that was guiding the aircraft with an Iranian signal, an Iranian engineer told The Christian Science Monitor on condition of anonymity.

To accomplish such a cyber coup, at least three and probably many more major technical hurdles would need to be overcome, several US cyberwarfare and drone experts said. On one hand, hacking into drones is not unprecedented. Does Iran have access to satellite jamming technology? Iran claims it can control captured American drone  Iran's Revolutionary Guard Websi/EPA Iranian television displayed what they claim was an American drone brought down by a cyber attack.

Iran claims it can control captured American drone 

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ratcheted up claims surrounding the American drone the country claims it downed, telling Venezuelan state TV that it has been "able to control" it. "Those who have been in control of the spy plane will analyze the plane's system," Ahmadinejad bragged, according to CNN. "The systems of Iran are so advanced also, like the system of this plane. " The drone, which was displayed on Iranian television last week, was captured by Iranian forces earlier this month. Officials claim they brought the drone down with a cyber attack after spotting it flying over Iranian air space. Ahmadinejad's claims came after President Obama said on Monday that the United States asked Iran to return the aircraft, though American officials have admitted it doesn't seem likely. It Won't Be Easy for Iran to Dissect, Copy U.S. Drone.

Prepare the dissection table.

It Won't Be Easy for Iran to Dissect, Copy U.S. Drone

Iran says it’s planning to disassemble its prized acquisition: a CIA-operated drone that apparently crashed in its territory. Its goal: to learn how the drone, apparently a stealth RQ-170 Sentinel, evades radar and how its top-secret sensors work. Video: Iran Shows Off Captured U.S. Drone, Swears It's No Fake. Updated once more, 3:40 pm China and Russia are apparently chomping at the bit to get a look at the American spy drone that went down over Iran.

Video: Iran Shows Off Captured U.S. Drone, Swears It's No Fake

But if Iranian officials are to be believed, all they have to do is fire up YouTube to get a glimpse. On Thursday, an Iranian news site quoted military sources as saying that Russia and China have already asked Iran to view the remains of an American RQ-170 stealth spy drone that recently crashed in Iran. The site —, known to be close to Tehran’s conservative Islamic Coalition Party — is also broadcasting footage of Iranian military officials inspecting what authorities claim is an intact RQ-170. Malfunction likely put U.S. drone in Iranian hands. Iran Probably Did Capture a Secret U.S. Drone. Updated 6:21 pm Iran probably did scoop up one of America’s stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel spy drones after the bat-winged aircraft crashed near the Iran-Afghanistan border last week.

Iran Probably Did Capture a Secret U.S. Drone

Multiple news outlets have cited anonymous U.S. government sources confirming Tehran’s claims that it’s in possession of the radar-evading Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. What’s still uncertain is exactly why the drone went down, what it was doing in or near Iranian airspace and who was operating it. The Iranians claim they captured the RQ-170 “with little damage” after an electronic-warfare unit jammed its control signal. But the RQ-170, like most modern drones, doesn’t need orders from its human operators to stay in the air. Drone that crashed in Iran may give away U.S. secrets -

Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington — The radar-evading drone that crash-landed over the weekend in Iran was on a mission for the CIA, according to a senior U.S. official, raising fears that the aircraft's sophisticated technology could be exploited by Tehran or shared with other American rivals.

Drone that crashed in Iran may give away U.S. secrets -

It was unclear whether the drone's mission took it over Iran or whether it strayed there accidentally because of technical malfunctions, the official said. Though the drone flight was a CIA operation, U.S. military personnel were involved in flying the aircraft, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy involved. US considered covert mission to recover drone captured by Iran.

Did Iran Capture a U.S. Stealth Drone Intact? Updated Dec. 5, 7:20 p.m.

Did Iran Capture a U.S. Stealth Drone Intact?

For the second time this year, the Iranian government is claiming it forced down a stealthy U.S. Air Force spy drone. Only this time, Iran says it bagged the RQ-170 “with little damage” by jamming its control signal — a potentially worrying development for American forces heavily reliant on remote-controlled aircraft. There are good reasons to question Iran’s story — or at least parts of it. For starters, the earlier claim of a drone shoot-down proved false. The wedge-shaped RQ-170, built in small numbers by Lockheed Martin, was a secret until reporters photographed it at Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan in 2007, as seen above. Analysts says the RQ-170 could scout out Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear facilities.

Still, the shoot-down claim, published today by the official Islamic Republic News Agency and echoed by Iran’s Press TV, should be taken with a giant grain of salt. That’s a pretty big deal, if true.