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CIA DRONE DISPLAYED December 9, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in CENTRAL ASIA, Terrorism Issues.

Iranian television has shown pictures of the CIA drone that reportedly was flying over the country. Such an invasion of air space constitutes an act of war.

Those rules apply to the United States but not to other countries. The Americans believed that their advanced technology gave them impunity to act as they wished.Now they have engaged in technology transfer presumably not simply with Iran but in all likelihood Russia, and perhaps China. Here is the Iranian televison report and pictures:

The real question is how was this feat managed by the Iranians. The vehicle appears to be intact. There was supposedly a self destruct switch option for the operator.

RT reports:

The Sentinel has been in the arsenal of the US military since 2009 and the Pentagon has gone to great lengths to keep its exact capabilities under wraps, though those speaking under condition of anonymity to the Los Angeles Times have revealed that among its powers is the ability to intercept cell phone transmissions and sniff out toxic chemicals from miles above the Earth’s surface, all while remaining undetected.
“It’s bad — they’ll have everything,” one official added to the Times.
“It carries a variety of systems,” author Peter W. Singer tells the Times, “to its allies . . . it’s a potential gold mine.”
Given the craft’s complex technology, the interception out of Iran allowed for authorities to down the drone in what appears to be perfect condition. BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says such supports the claim by Iran that its forces electronically hijacked the plane brought it down without a crash.
Is the hacking of the drone’s complex system a possibility for Iran? Less than two months ago, RT reported that a key-logger virus was installed on the computers at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, infecting information in the cockpits of drones. The Air Force officials on the base were not made aware of the incident until an expose in Wired’s Danger Room revealed the details.
As it so happens, the Sentinel is dispatched out of the same base. If that virus from months back was in fact perpetrated by Tehran, the United States could be the victim of cyber warfare courtesy of Iran. Such an attack has been among the Pentagon’s worries for years now, and in May the DoD formally filed paperwork that says computer sabotage from another nation counts as an act of war. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal at the time, one unnamed military official was quoted as saying, “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”
While the US investigates how they managed to lose the craft to Iran, the biggest concern for America right now is what Tehran will do with the craft. As threats grow of a potential nuclear program overseas and tensions between countries worsen, the technology of such an advanced craft in the hands of the perceived enemy — and its allies — could be detrimental to any military action the US intends on carrying out in the future — or any action dished out by Iran.
“Among the United States’ main concerns is that Iran could use an intact aircraft to examine the vulnerabilities in stealth technology and take countermeasures with its air defense systems,” reports Iran’s FARS news agency. “Another is that China or other US adversaries could help Iran extract data from the drone that would reveal its flight history, surveillance targets and other capabilities. The drone was programmed to destroy such data in the event of a malfunction, but it failed to do so.”
“The blow has been so heavy that the US officials do not still want to accept that Iran brought down the plane by a cyberattack.”

Could it be that capture of one drone will be enough to deflect the much heralded attack on Iran? But then again maybe it is just a model. But what would be gained by that course, other than propaganda. On balance I am inclined to think this might be the real thing and if it is due to cyberwarfare, to which the Iranians have been subject, the plot thickens.

Interestingly this development if true has a connection with the long incarceration of Bradley Manning who was among other things critical of the tech saviness among the military. It is simply astonishing to believe that the Cheech base was operating state of the art technology but was not aware that they have hacked until pointed out by Wired.


At War In Context, Paul Woodward, provides further references relating to the significance of this incident, although presumably was not the first occasion of spying by manned, unmanned and satellite platforms. I am thinking that perhaps this aircraft was flying below cloud level to obtain more detailed information.

UPDATE:14 December 2011

The BBC reports that decoding the information from an intact drone may not be easy, but the Iranians have capacity and friends. The advanced avionics for a flying boomerang are not easy. Spy drones are connected to spy satellites.


Paul Woodward at War in Context quotes The Christian Science Monitor article which reports that the Iranians were able to exploit the GPS to allow the drone to land in Iran as if it was its home base.



1. Dean White - December 9, 2011

If you got nothing to hide… then who would actually care.

wmmbb - December 9, 2011

Consider if the roles were reversed. Are you suggesting that the US would not care if there airspace was encroached upon? In international law such an action is considered to be an act of war.

There have been previous incidents involving the former USSR and China involving manned U2 flights. The immediate context here is the ongoing proposals coming from Israel and the US for an invasion of Iran. The longer historical context goes back at least to the events following the end of the Second World War, the involvement of the British in oil and the 1953 assassination of the democratically-elected prime minister and the imposition of the reign of the Shah.

As to what was the object of the spying mission, I don’t know, and as you imply it may well be their nuclear facilities, but the surveillance probably does not stop there.

The big deal here is that the vehicle has been apparently captured intact which is extraordinary given its technology and capacity for self destruction.This suggests at the very least there are vulnerabilities in the technology that I would not have thought possible pointing to the importance of cyber warfare.

Then there is the issue of economic spying, another area of contention.

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