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Iranian TV Shows Downed US Drone 612

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-ben-afleck-can-you-fly dept.
First time accepted submitter loic_2003 writes "Iranian TV has broadcast footage of an advanced U.S. drone aircraft that Tehran says it brought down using electronic methods to override its controls. The BBC's James Reynolds watched the footage and said the fact that the drone appeared undamaged provided some evidence to support Tehran's version of events. The film was captioned 'RQ170 — advanced U.S. spy plane' and carried on the Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 channel."
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Iranian TV Shows Downed US Drone

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:28PM (#38306492)

    There is nothing more dangerous to a drone than a TV show.

  • Holy crap! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:29PM (#38306510)

    They have anti-aircraft TV shows? We're screwed.

    • by Guppy (12314) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:45PM (#38306724)

      They have anti-aircraft TV shows? We're screwed.

      It's the ultimate weapon against drone aircraft. They flood the control frequencies with Jerry Springer and UFO Conspiracy documentaries, causing the controller to become too stupid to continue flying the aircraft.

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:54PM (#38306860)

        little known secret: encode fox news audio or video data in serial bitstream format and beam directly at incoming smart weapons.

        it confuses them and they make all the wrong decisions, interpreting garbled messages as literal data and acting on it with full force.

      • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:55PM (#38306874)

        They have anti-aircraft TV shows? We're screwed.

        It's the ultimate weapon against drone aircraft. They flood the control frequencies with Jerry Springer and UFO Conspiracy documentaries, causing the controller to become too stupid to continue flying the aircraft.

        Wow, someone finally out-Foxed us!

      • by skids (119237) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:16PM (#38307216) Homepage

        causing the controller to become too stupid to continue flying the aircraft.

        ...or too depressed. Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and arsenal to match, and they have me watching reruns of The Kardasians. I think I'll just put my flaps up and end it all.

    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      If our drones can be taken so easily, we're screwed.
      • Re:Holy crap! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:15PM (#38307190)
        No it's the US government that can be taken so easy, at $100 million a pop.
      • Re:Holy crap! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by meerling (1487879) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:05PM (#38308792)
        I don't think what that video showed was an American Spy drone.
        It looked more like a garage kit-bashed fiberglass ooh that would be cool concept of a drone.

        Lets see, first the shape. It's a flying wing, and what the heck are those large things standing up on the back like that? It's completely different than anything I've ever seen on any flying wing design before. I'm not a plane expert by any imagination, but still, it looks like something a George Lucas wannabe would build, not the military.
        It's totally the wrong color, honestly, nothing the military makes is that color, and there's reasons for it. If it was really a spy drone, it would most likely be radar absorbent black. By the way, the SR71 was NEVER flat black when they were in use, it was a special radar absorbent black paint that is still top secret. That paint was completely removed and then repainted with normal aircraft paints before they were transferred to their new non-military homes.
        What the heck is that grill thing on top, but too far past that wide nose to be a sensor grill, and it's not an air intake either, unless if was cut from an old car radiator.

        Cyber warfare implies they took control of it. Not impossible, but let's just say I highly doubt it. Maybe it was electronic warfare and they jammed the control signals. Far more likely, but don't even try and convince me that something that freaking huge for a drone doesn't have a backup plan involving an inertial compass and software to return it to a safe location if it's GPS gets jammed.

        Did Iran get an American Drone? Maybe, but I'm pretty sure this thing is NOT it.
        • Re:Holy crap! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:08AM (#38312218)

          I don't think what that video showed was an American Spy drone.
          It looked more like a garage kit-bashed fiberglass ooh that would be cool concept of a drone. Lets see, first the shape. It's a flying wing, and what the heck are those large things standing up on the back like that? It's completely different than anything I've ever seen on any flying wing design before. I'm not a plane expert by any imagination, but still, it looks like something a George Lucas wannabe would build, not the military.
          It's totally the wrong color, honestly, nothing the military makes is that color, and there's reasons for it. If it was really a spy drone, it would most likely be radar absorbent black. By the way, the SR71 was NEVER flat black when they were in use, it was a special radar absorbent black paint that is still top secret.

          The drone is called the Lockheed RQ-170 Sentinel, AKA "The Beast of Kandahar" after photographs of the thing were snapped at an airfield in Kandahar. Those photos show a fat flying wing, painted a light color, with a pair of distinctive bulges over the "shoulders" of the wings, and a covered inlet above the nose. What the Iranians showed is an RQ-170- or else a decent copy. It is hard to believe the drone came down in one piece, which raises the possibility that this is a fake. It's not clear why they would present a fake, however. The only reason I can imagine is that there just wasn't enough left of the drone to put on TV- perhaps it came down hard and fast and broke into hundreds of little scraps, or perhaps the fuel caught fire and burned up the crash. However, if it's *not* the real drone, the guys who built it should be able to tell, and you would expect the U.S. to come right out and say so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:31PM (#38306534)

    ...then I took an arrow to the knee

  • It sounds feasible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:42PM (#38306668) Homepage Journal

    I seem to recall reading that the communications to the drones are largely unencrypted for some unknown reason, so if that's the case, I could see someone overriding the controls and bringing down the plane.

    It seems very unlikely that an uncontrolled aircraft would come down in one piece, yet the US claims that the drone in Iran's possession is one they lost control and track of. The idea that the US could lose track of a piece of technology that size with all their spy satellites and spy planes doesn't seem very likely to me, further lending credence to Iran's story.

    Methinks the US may have been caught red-handed spying on Iran. It's not a surprise that they would be doing so, but it is very surprising that they've been sloppy enough to get caught.

    • by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:46PM (#38306736) Homepage
      "Military Intelligence" is an oxymoron. More news at 11.
    • US Has Confirmed It (Score:5, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:50PM (#38306788) Journal
      Just FYI, most other reports are saying that the United States acknowledges this [sfgate.com] the only incredulity surrounds how the drone went down -- not whether it was there or not. US says technical malfunction. Iran says Allah helped them hack it and control it themselves.
    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:51PM (#38306800)

      If they did override the controls then surely it wouldn't have to be in Iranian airspace in the first place. Radio waves don't stop at the border after aren't frowned upon like firing missiles into neighboring countries are.

    • by wrmrxxx (696969) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:01PM (#38306976)

      My recollection is that it was only the video feed returned from the drone that was unencrypted. The control signals sent to the aircraft were still encrypted. Even signal jamming is apparently a difficult way to disable the drone because it has a degree of autonomy.

      If Iran's claims are true (that it gained control of the plane) then that is either quite an achievement on their part, or quite a failure on the part of the US engineers.

      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        My recollection is that it was only the video feed returned from the drone that was unencrypted. The control signals sent to the aircraft were still encrypted. Even signal jamming is apparently a difficult way to disable the drone because it has a degree of autonomy.

        This was my recollection too. I believe it was because the video signal was designed to be able to be seen by troops on the ground in the proximity of the drone, whereas the actual control is done from somewhere in Colorado (or similar). Obviously still should be encrypted, but makes a lot more sense when you realize inter-compatibility was the reason (again, not positive, but that was my recollection).

        In this case, most likely the drone failed as the US says. I say that because Iran first claimed they "sh

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:11PM (#38307106)

      I seem to recall reading that the communications to the drones are largely unencrypted for some unknown reason, so if that's the case, I could see someone overriding the controls and bringing down the plane.

      According to the US government, the drone was CIA operated. The idea that CIA operatives even sneeze unencrypted mucus is ridiculous. They'd be concerned the particulates could reveal something about the operative.

      It was either a technical malfunction or plain old jamming of the control signal. The malfunction is more likely, as I'm sure they have better fail-safe procedures for signal jamming.

      Methinks the US may have been caught red-handed spying on Iran. It's not a surprise that they would be doing so, but it is very surprising that they've been sloppy enough to get caught.

      That could very well be, but the Iranians likely didn't bring it down. The US got caught when the technical malfunction caused the thing to crash. Nevertheless, I doubt the US gives a shit about being caught spying on Iran, they're more concerned about the technology being reverse engineered.

    • by Ogive17 (691899) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:11PM (#38307114)
      If, in fact, Iran was able to somehow assume control of the drone, who is to say they didn't fly it into Iranian air space on their own?

      The US claimed it was flying over Afghanistan. Not that I am one to believe what comes out of Washington but what we have is a mostly intact drone that Iran claims brought down via "electronic" means.
    • by fructose (948996)

      Early command and control systems were considered secure through obscurity and lack of technical ability. Obviously, that isn't the case anymore. I don't know how old the drone design it, but considering that the US is saying all the technology on it is obsolete, then it's probably more than just a year or two old and could be controlled though the 'old school' technique. Now days, command links are encrypted to prevent the bad guys from even eaves dropping on the intel that comes down.

      Spy satellites and

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:46PM (#38306730) Journal
    I like how they hang American flags with white skulls instead of stars beneath it [dailymail.co.uk] as well as graffiti covering them. Real mature. Sort of makes me want to photoshop their flag with the tulip being one person stoning another person while blood drips down into the bottom band.

    So you've downed a pristine intact drone from your mortal enemy. Do you A) keep it secret to have an upper hand and send it to a lab to analyze all of its weaknesses and offer this information to your allies or B) take pictures in front of it with propaganda surrounding it and show the world? Well, I guess when you don't know how to do A you have to go with B!
    • by MrQuacker (1938262) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:51PM (#38306798)

      They used plan B in order to allow the Chinese to use plan A.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:56PM (#38306882)

      The propaganda they'll get out of taking down one of the mighty U.S. spy drones (and establishing that they ARE, in fact, being spied on by the U.S.) is WAY more valuable to the regime there than any stealth tech they'll get out of it. And they'll still get that tech anyway. It's not like they're not going to tear it apart when the press conferences are all over.

    • by The Askylist (2488908) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:57PM (#38306896)

      So you've downed a pristine intact drone from your mortal enemy. Do you A) keep it secret to have an upper hand and send it to a lab to analyze all of its weaknesses and offer this information to your allies or B) take pictures in front of it with propaganda surrounding it and show the world? Well, I guess when you don't know how to do A you have to go with B!

      I guess they have the ability to do A, but given the recent assassinations of their nuclear scientists and the explosions at their rocket plant and centrifuges, option B is probably a better bet.

      It will force the US to rejig the comms to their drones, and promote one hell of a fuss in the US command chain as arses are covered and blame transferred to the least well protected elements.

      It also gives them something to crow about, and can legitimately be used to justify at least one retaliatory action.

    • by GSloop (165220) <networkguru@[ ]op.net ['slo' in gap]> on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:08PM (#38307058) Homepage

      Lets see here. We're waging robo war in Pakistan, Afganistan, Iraq Yemen - virtually surrounded their whole country - some 100K troops near their borders.
      We're beating the drums of "Those Iranians are the worst since Hitler..."
      We're probably assassinating their scientists.
      We've invaded multiple countries without provocation for a long time, and waged countless covert wars and actions against those we don't like.
      We supported a proxy war [using our best friend Saddam Hussain - (where have I heard that name before?)] using weapons of mass destruction against the Iranians, using US intelligence.
      And less than sixty years ago we helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Iran and put in place the Shah. [Who was evil in ways that Hitler *would* understand.] ...and if I understand you, you're complaining that the Iranians used some props you find offensive.

      You sir, have a most misplaced sense of decency [or a most woefully inadequate knowledge of the history of the dealings of your country].

      Of all the offenses betwixt the USA and Iran, I'd posit that the balance isn't even close to parity. The Iranians have a lot of IOU's due against the US. [Like enough to use one every day for a century.]

      • by johnjaydk (584895) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:08PM (#38307958)

        And less than sixty years ago we helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Iran and put in place the Shah. [Who was evil in ways that Hitler *would* understand.] ...and if I understand you, you're complaining that the Iranians used some props you find offensive.

        Not to mention the minor fact that Allan Dulles bragged left and right about the CIA hand in the overthrow to the point where every kid in Iran knew the score ...

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:47PM (#38306750) Homepage

    Honestly a drone takeover requires you to be above it. They get control from satellites and AWAC's that are flying ABOVE Them. they do not get controls from ground based transmitters. Plus how did they get their hands on the C&C protocols?

    IF they did this, then the USA military electronics is a complete and utter joke. But right now I'm claiming that it glided into the sandy wasteland after it had a failure and they found it.

  • by paiute (550198) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:59PM (#38306942)
    "Tehran says it brought down using electronic methods to override its controls" Hey now. Espionage and sabotage are one thing, but that might be a DMCA violation!
  • Boom? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GerryHattrick (1037764) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:59PM (#38306946)
    Wouldn't you expect that n hours after failing to receive commands, and if no coded 'safe' key input, a self-destruct system would trip in? Check that thing for ticking, guys; remember HMS Campbeltown!
  • Aggression by whom? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dpilot (134227) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:06PM (#38307030) Homepage Journal

    When this story first broke, it was cited as response to an American act of aggression. Now we hear that they overrode communications and forced the drone to land. At the very least, the latter seems to me to be something that you'd have to be well prepared to do, in advance. So perhaps the drone was deliberately encroaching on Iranian airspace, but they must have been patiently waiting for their opportunity to pounce.

    It's also possible that the drone was patrolling the border from inside Iraq or Afghanistan, and Iran sent radio waves across the border to make the intercept. That's unknown. But by pateience and pouncing or by cross-border override, in either case it seems to me that they've given up the right to shriek in righteous indignation about being violated. The proper response to "Oh No!! Our airspace is being violated!!" would have been to shoot the thing down. There's an air of deliberation here that doesn't square.

    • by forkfail (228161)

      O course, maybe it just broke, and they recovered it and claimed to have brought it down...

    • by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:42PM (#38307616)

      it was cited as response to an American act of aggression.

      Illegally invading another country's sovereign airspace is an act of aggression.

      Now we hear that they overrode communications and forced the drone to land.

      Any stray military aircraft would also be offered a choice of being forced to land, or be shot down, under the same circumstances.

      It's also possible that the drone was patrolling the border from inside Iraq or Afghanistan

      The US lately seems to have no problems with crossing borders in Pakistan and Yemen and even killing people there in complete violation of international law. Why would flying over Iran be a problem? You have played the "poor innocent America we mean no harm we come in peace" card far too often. Sorry.

      There's an air of deliberation here that doesn't square.

      Oh it squares alright. Just like the ICBM launched off the California coast earlier this year oh no sorry it was a "jet". Just like the Chinese sub popping up next to the USS Kitty Hawk and saying hi. Just like the satellite that got blown out of the sky. It says "look what we can do - please invest more trillions in easily circumventable drone technology".

    • by Erikderzweite (1146485) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:48PM (#38307692)

      Well, it's their airspace, they can do whatever they like to objects in it.

      Besides, I overheard a report on CBS that this drone is a part of a spy drone fleet which was routinely flying over Iran and collecting information for years. If the goal is really to stop foreign spy planes flying over your land, it might be more beneficial to down the plane and showing it to the hole world instead of shooting it down.

  • Fake pictures (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:33PM (#38308362)

    The aircraft shown on Iranian television today was not the American stealth drone that crashed in Iran last week, as the Iranian government claimed, but was likely just a model, U.S. officials told ABC News.

    Minutes after a Pentagon spokesperson said that military personnel and others were examining the footage broadcast today of what appeared to be an undamaged stealth RQ-170 Sentinel, multiple U.S. officials said that based on inconsistencies with the design of the drone, along with clues from imagery of the actual drone's crash site, the drone shown was not the Sentinel. U.S. officials previously confirmed that an RQ-170 did, in fact, crash land somewhere in Iran.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/us-rq-170-sentinel-stealth-drone-shown-iran/story?id=15115781#.TuEsofJbeV0 [go.com]

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