A year ago Iran managed to?take down?a U.S. stealthy RQ-170 drone that violated its airspace without much damage.

Persian cats taking down made in Iran RQ-170 training drones Photo via Thomas Erdbrink - bigger
Persian cats taking down made in Iran RQ-170 training drones
Photo via Thomas Erdbrink – bigger

Today Iran took down?another, smaller U.S. drone.?A Boeing?Scan Eagle?which might have been launched from a ship in the Persian Gulf. The video, below the fold, shows that the Iranians caught this one, like the other one, without any obvious damage. All that cat training was obviously quite successful.

While some?believe?that GPS spoofing, overriding the original GPS signal with a deceiving one, is the way Iran could have done this, I?doubt that?and I still find my old?explanation?the more plausible one:

When the drone is in the air it is controlled via a satellite link from a remote operating station. But during start and landing the drone is piloted via line-of-sight radio by an operator near the start or landing field. This is necessary because the remote satellite link has a delay of several hundred milliseconds which is just too much latency to correct wind sheer and other problems during takeoff and landing.What the Iranians seem to have done is to take over the drone‘s line-of-sight control. This after electronically disrupting its satellite link. Disrupting the satellite link alone would not be enough as the drone would then have followed some preprogrammed action like simply flying back to where it came from. With the line-of-sight control active a satellite link disruption would not lead to a preprogrammed abort.

We can reasonably assume that the Iranians have some station near Kandahar Airport that is listening to all military radio traffic there. They had four years to analyze the radio signaling between the ground operator and such drones. Even if that control signal is encrypted pattern recognition during many flights over four years would have given them enough information to break the code.

The U.S. (and Israel) are routinely violating other countries airspace. This might one day come back to haunt them. The technological development of drones is no longer a hurdle and soon other countries will also have many of them. Hizbullah?flying?a drone above Israels Dimona reactor is just a sign of things to come.

We also must?again emphasize?that despite five years of continued illegal drone espionage over Iran the U.S. has found not one bit of evidence of any existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

One wonders if future officials will resent their forerunner’s dumb idea of creating a customary law of air violations for the senseless quest for proof of an Iranian program that does not exist.

 

Press TV has now put up a?longer, more detailed video.

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