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Iran's Military Claims To Have Downed US Surveillance Drone 522

mrquagmire submits a link to the Jerusalem Post's report that an American reconnaissance UAV has been captured by the Iranian military. "'Iran's military has downed an intruding RQ-170 American drone in eastern Iran,' Iran's Arabic-language Al Alam state television network quoted the unnamed source as saying. 'The spy drone, which has been downed with little damage, was seized by the Iranian armed forces.' ... 'The Iranian military's response to the American spy drone's violation of our airspace will not be limited to Iran's borders any more,' Iran's Arabic language Al Alam television quoted the military source as saying, without giving details."
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Iran's Military Claims To Have Downed US Surveillance Drone

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  • Here we go.
    • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by InsightIn140Bytes ( 2522112 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:56PM (#38257690)
      It was US that violated Iran's airspace. They have every right to shoot it down. It happens frequently with my country too and they never do anything about it - they just go "yes, we will demand answers from the this time, honestly we promise!". Kudos to Iran for taking a stance.
      • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by caladine ( 1290184 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:12PM (#38257834)
        Allegedly. Given the amount of evidence and the history of the regime (last time they made this claim they backed off it) I'm skeptical. It wouldn't really surprise me either way. Iran was putting their equivalent of a drone into Iraq while US forces were there. Maybe they're just returning the favor.
        • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:41PM (#38258100)

          Someone just blew up (at least) one of their missile bases. There are reports of more attacks.


          Iran claimed it was an accident...
          Course then the UK embassy then gets invaded and a drone is shot down. Or claimed. All a coincidence of course.

          • The UK embassy invasion was in reponse to the sanctions the UK recently placed on Iran. Iran had voted to expell the UK ambassador [] last week. Imo the embassy invasion could have been orchestrated by the more hard line factions of their political system to ensure there is no back down from the resolution.
            Regarding the blowing up of the missile base, that would (imo) more than likely be by saboteurs - the US has declared (Mr Bush (Jr), continued by Mr. Obama) that they will fund and assist dissidents []. Alt
          • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:05PM (#38259742)

            Iran claimed it was an accident...

            Of course they do. But when you look at the satellite before and after images widely published on the web you see three different buildings in separate areas of the base taken out with other buildings between them left standing. The damage looks like James Bond work as opposed to an airstrike or drone strike.


        • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Informative)

          by icebike ( 68054 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @04:58PM (#38259704)

          Allegedly. Given the amount of evidence and the history of the regime (last time they made this claim they backed off it) I'm skeptical. It wouldn't really surprise me either way. Iran was putting their equivalent of a drone into Iraq while US forces were there. Maybe they're just returning the favor.

          Given this is a mid-altitude drone (50K feet) which has significant lack of stealth technology, about which Wikipedia [] says:

          Aviation Week postulates that these design elements suggest the designers have avoided 'highly sensitive technologies' due to the near certainty of eventual operational loss inherent with a single engine design and a desire to avoid the risk of compromising leading edge technology

          the shoot down is entirely plausible, and could easily be accomplished with what ever operational missiles or even manned fighter aircraft the Iranian's have in operation. An unmasked exhaust makes this drone vulnerable to heat seeker missiles.

          At 6 million per copy, they are relatively cheap, and containing nothing particularly secret, it may even have been used as cover decoy for a much more expensive and more capable vehicle on a concurrent mission.

      • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:01PM (#38258274)
        A aerial reconnaissance is not an attack, much less a first strike by any definition.
        Sure it's pisses off the target, and is subject to being shot down, but nobody considers it an act of war, that takes killing somebody or capturing/taking something/somewhere.
        For that matter, until either the other side admits to losing the drone, or Iran coughs it up to a recognized 3rd party, like the UN for example, it's just propaganda on Irans part. I've seen the B.S. propaganda countries will say in an attempt to gain leverage. Remember the whole USA bombing Libya back in the 80s? I remember them showing an "unexploded bomb" that was actually only part of a high drag fin that wasn't even used in that operation. They also claimed bombing of civilian neighborhoods and showed photos of an area covered with potholes, but the bombs the USA used were larger than most of the potholes themselves and would have leveled the area instead of making potholes. Those holes, if they were caused during that incident, would have been from their own SAM falling down on the city due to stupidity in both the shooters (don't shoot into your own city), and the missile designers (on a miss, it should have self destructed).

        I don't care what side you want to take (or not), but when it comes to countries and their propensity for propaganda, don't believe word of mouth, demand proof.
        (Something which the article doesn't provide any of.)
        • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:33PM (#38258550) Journal

          Iran coughs it up to a recognized 3rd party, like the UN for example

          If I were them I'd sell it to China.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:47PM (#38258652)

            It was probably made in China.

          • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:59PM (#38258734)

            why Iran has been taking the ones destroyed over iraq and afghanistan apart for years.

            Indeed most of the technical hacks(like the discovery of taliban troops with tv's capable of receiving drone transmissions are done by iranians.

            However Iran has several times in the past claimed to have shot down a drone in their airspace, and not once have they actually shown the crash site. just parts. Parts from drones shot down over other countries.

        • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @04:17PM (#38259404)

          According to some, the covert war has already [] started []:

          * $400 million funding for CIA Iran covert ops program

          * Assassinations of Iranian scientists (the ones we know about: Majid Shahriari, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani (survived), Darioush Rezaeinejad)

          * Cyber attacks (Stuxnet etc.)

          * Sabotage of military/industrial sites (bombing of Isfahan uranium plant)

          * Assassinations of military personnel (the head of the Revolutionary Guards missile program)

          * And now: 12 CIA operatives arrested in Iran []

          It's almost as if someone is trying to provoke a full on war...

          • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <> on Sunday December 04, 2011 @10:46PM (#38262220) Homepage

            It's also as though someone wants to prevent a full-out shooting or nuclear war. Israel is taking a more and more hostile stance towards Iran. There are stories leaking about how the Israelis are going to attack Iran without US permission. If you were the US, you have to talk the Israelis off the ledge. So what do you do? You have to do what you did in the First Gulf War to stop the Israelis from coming into the war: hunt Scuds and do other shit to show them that you're providing an alternative. Israeli isn't going to let Iran get nukes. They will do anything to stop that, including a shooting war. Crippling Iran's nuclear capabilities in a backdoor way (I mean, Stuxnet was awesome, right?!) delays that war.

        • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@wo[ ] ['rld' in gap]> on Monday December 05, 2011 @04:35AM (#38263724) Homepage Journal

          A aerial reconnaissance is not an attack, much less a first strike by any definition.

          Try to imagine the roles reversed for a minute:

          Iran has a large and powerful military with the latest high tech weapons, and could crush the US in a matter of weeks. Iranian politicians talk openly about the possibility of military strikes or invasion, and Iran is constantly spying on the US with satellites, drones and operatives on the ground. Iran invaded Canada on a lie and effected "regime change", and furthermore is widely seen in the west as being at war with Christianity and the American way of life. Mexico has nuclear weapons and is good friend of Iran, and is waging an active cold war against the US.

          Iran is doing everything it can to prevent the US getting nuclear power or weapons. The US is determined to get nuclear weapons because they are the one thing that will definitely prevent Iran from invading, and to develop ICBMs to deliver them to Iranian soil and guarantee Mutually Assured Destruction. Iran keeps bringing new sanctions against the US via the UN, and ordinary US citizens are suffering because of it.

          Maybe you can start to understand why Iran behaves the way it does, and why the actions of the US and Israel are just making the situation worse.

      • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @02:10PM (#38258348)

        Iran has a history of expandable borders when they want something that's just slightly over the border. Very much like North Korea in that respect. It's definitely possible that the drone was in their airspace, but it's also possible that there was no drone or that it wasn't in their airspace. Given the credibility that Iran has, I wouldn't necessarily assume that they're being above the board without more information.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @04:31PM (#38259520)

          Iran "has a history of expandable borders", when?! Please provide some details.

          As far as I know, Iran was attacked by Saddam Hussein and that is their latest war. The modern Iran has not been around for very long, you know, less than a century. Before the former shah's Iran it was a European protectorate of sorts. Around 1980, the mullah's took over ruined most of what was available at that time.

          An "expandable border" theory sounds like century old history to me.

        • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @04:43PM (#38259604)
          Yes, fortunately for us on our moral high-ground, Iran and North Korea are the only nations that have a history of territorial ambitions. The United States would never do something [] like that []. Neither would Britain. []
          • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by chispito ( 1870390 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:09PM (#38260200)
            Yes, pulling up stuff from the 19th century is extremely relevant to this conversation about an unmanned aerial drone.
            • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @07:32PM (#38260986)

              I assumed the OP was alluding to the past, since he used that "history" word. But if you want to talk about now, please do so.... how exactly has Iran tried to "expand its borders" in the last couple of years? I really would like to know. As far as I can see (and contrary to the images portrayed by some Western media) the Iranian government hasn't invaded anyone, hasn't "settled" or captured any land, and has in fact been praised by the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq for being a good and helpful neighbor.

              The government of Iran were also a major regional enemy of the Taliban - after declaring opium unlawful, the Iranian government eradicated the domestic trade in 18 months, and started fighting the Taliban smugglers [] who use Iran as a transit route to Europe. Three Iranian security agents are killed every day in this "war"; the total killed numbers in the thousands, and they almost went to war with the Taliban [] when they governed Afghanistan. This is something that our media forget to mention when they try to to convince us that Iran is the bad guy allied with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

              I am no apologist for the Iranian government. From our liberal west point of view, we may not like the religious society that they want to create, but compared to ourselves their territorial ambitions seem to have been remarkably limited. Are they the ones that have invaded our neighbors? Are they the ones with soldiers deployed along our borders? Are they the ones constantly meddling in the politics of north America or Europe? Did they ever overthrow a western government and install a dictator? No. And yet, we have done all of these things to them. No wonder they dislike us.

              Disagreeing with a government is not a reason to go to war:

              "Old men declare war because they have failed to solve complex political and economic problems."

              "War is the most striking instance of the failure of intelligence to master the problem of human relationships."

        • Citation? Iraq tried expanding their border by taking Iranian territory, I don't know any instance where Iran tried to expand their border, I also do not know of any case where Iran has claimed their border extended further than it does (this includes the British naval incident and the hikers - I do not believe they were spies but they were in Iranian territory and Iran got some propaganda for home consumption).

          Nato has released a statement informing us that they "lost control" of a drone over the weeken
        • by guspasho ( 941623 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @05:27PM (#38259898)

          No, they don't. Iran hasn't invaded anybody in like 2500 years.

    • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:01PM (#38257738)

      Not really. The US has been flying manned combat aircraft into Iran for several years probing air defences. My Persian cooworkers have a social app that tracks when people on the ground see the planes, I don't speak farsi (or understand the language) so I can't point you at it unfortunately. Searches for USAF probing iranian air defences gives some results along these lines.

      The US is trying to fly as deep into Iran as they can before all the air defence sites 'light up', they're trying to locate all the air defence radars etc. It's illegal, but it's been going on for years, and everyone knows the game, the americans pretend 'this time is the time' they're going to attack natanz etc. and the Iranians call their bluff. Presumably one of these days the Israeli's or someone else will take this data and go after air defence sites along with the nuclear facilities but who knows.

      • This also isn't the first time that they've shot down a drone. I imagine that they make a big deal about this in part because they can't do much about U-2 overflights, and in part because it validates the government's rhetoric about how the whole world (except maybe Syria) is out to get Iran. Shooting down a drone is not terribly difficult.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

          Maybe someone can explain the whole U2 thing to me, because i just don't get it. I mean here is a tech invented in...what? 1958? Why hasn't anyone figured out how to swat those thing down like gnats already? i mean i could at least understand the SR71 blackbird as literally by the time you knew the thing was headed your way it was already gone. But the U2 ain't that fast and if the Ruskies were able to shoot down Powers why hasn't everyone else been knocking those things down?

          As for TFA I'm sure i'll get la

          • Re:First strike? (Score:5, Informative)

            by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @04:26PM (#38259480) Journal

            It was invented to go up against USSR, who eventually were able to down one. Against superpower military spending, the U2 is vulnerable. But it flys really high, so it takes some serious engineering skill just to design a weapon that can even reach it's height, let alone accurately kill one.

            Those resources are not available to lesser militaries, at least not yet, and there will always be nations for whom high altitude overflight is still safe. Loiter time and distance (high altitude is still way, way, way closer than satellite) mean that the U2 is still an extremely cost effective surveillance platoform and is likely to remain so for some time against many targets. Further, unlike satellites, the U2 can be flown at arbitrary times, rather than on a regular and predictable schedule.

      • America has been probing enemy air defenses since the Cold War. Operation Home Run was one in a series of operations that sent bombers stuffed with electronics into Russian territory to sniff where the defense radars were. At first, the bombers had to fly in international waters. But then the Russians would simply refuse to turn on all their radars to prevent their detection. Therefore, the US started to have their bombers suddenly divert into Russian airspace at a mad dash, which forced them to turn on the

  • First Drone (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:40PM (#38257526) Homepage Journal
    Pics or it didn't happen.
  • sold to china (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:41PM (#38257538)

    Why is it that USA thinks it can push other countrys around so much? They are in everybodys face, from Europe on copyrights to violating the sovereign territory of many countries with airstrikes that kill innocents to drones.

    Iran will sell this drone to China, I'm sure. The world needs China as a counterbalance to the aggression of the USA. It's better to have 2 superpowers than just one which can do whatever it pleases. If China is there to push back against usa, usa won't be able to cause so many probs anymore.

    • Re:sold to china (Score:5, Insightful)

      by the linux geek ( 799780 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:44PM (#38257570)
      After all, the PRC would never invade any of its neighbors. Not Vietnam, not Korea, not India, not Russia, not Tibet. And they certainly wouldn't make constant menacing gestures against ROC-Taiwan or Japan...

      The PRC is hated by every one of its neighbors except Pakistan and North Korea, which are pretty much rogue states.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by izomiac ( 815208 )
      The US does such things because it benefits the US. Having the strongest military and being a keystone of the world economy affords one the ability to do so with near impunity. Historically, the US has never been subservient to a supernational organization, and the US serves itself, not the world.

      IOW, it's difficult to compare the US to other countries. Economically, the GDP of the US sits at $14.5 trillion, compared to China's $5.9, Japan's $5.5, and Germany's $3.3. The whole European Union is compa
  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:42PM (#38257542)
    I mean I thought the whole idea is you send in unmanned drones to do a dangerous mission because losing a drone is preferable to losing a pilot.(Then again you'd hope the technology on the drone wouldn't be too advanced so the enemy doesn't get much out of shooting one down.)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:52PM (#38257654)

      The point is that sending aircraft into someone else' airspace without permission is an aggressive act forbidden by international law and treaties that the US is a party to.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *

        Forbidden? Really?

        It actually says "This is forbidden!"?

        Toss it under the "Aggressive acts" that countries do to each other all the time. For instance, Iran has been training and supplying people to fight in Iraq against US troops.

        • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @06:36PM (#38260458) Journal

          For instance, Iran has been training and supplying people to fight in Iraq against US troops.

          This is just propaganda BS, I've seen stories like this ripped to pieces. Think about it, Iran was at war with Iraq just a couple of decades ago, it's highly unlikely they'd be helping out the same people after 500,000 to 1,000,000 Iranians died fighting them.

        • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @08:05PM (#38261214)

          For instance, Iran has been training and supplying people to fight in Iraq against US troops.

          Not really. Most of the people fighting US troops in Iraq were Sunni (Saddam, his Ba'ath Party and his military were mostly Sunni). The present governments of Iraq and Iran are both Shia and are closely allied (no doubt to the annoyance of the US)... removing the Ba'ath Party from power and installing a Shia government was a great move for Iran. There are even allegations that it was Iranian intelligence that tricked the U.S. into invading Iraq through the use of double agents and false intel: US intelligence fears Iran duped hawks into Iraq war []:

          Some intelligence officials now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq... "It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi." .... "When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy."

          Did Iranian agents dupe Pentagon officials? []

          "The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator. Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces."

        • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @08:46PM (#38261510)

          Yes, forbidden; airspace [], air sovereignty []: "By international law, the notion of a country's sovereign airspace corresponds with the maritime definition of territorial waters as being 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) out from a nation's coastline. Airspace not within any country's territorial limit is considered international, analogous to the "high seas" in maritime law. "

          Just because something happens, does not mean that it is legal. See for example: underage drinking.

    • by Delwin ( 599872 )
      The problem with this is that those drones have encrypted radios and if they didn't get wiped in time closely guarded encryption keys. The radio has a remote-detonate so it should be OK but there's still a lot of other tech on that drone that we really don't want Iran getting it's hands on - not to mention China to whome it was likely sold.
    • The shape of the drone alone might have required hours of computing time to optimize for a low radar profile, so I'm not so sure that it was designed in a way to reduce technology creep.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @12:50PM (#38257634)

    Maybe they were just trying to slip something in, to see if it could be done? Like, how good are their air defenses really?

    A good mission for an "expendable" probe.

    Who knows if this is the first one that has been sent in already . . . ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      may well be, but it still comes down to violating another country's airspace.
      Iran will try to make this look like an act of agression by the US. and frankly, they would be right.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fsckmnky ( 2505008 )
      Maybe Iran is getting ready to provoke a war, and knowing this, they are claiming a 3rd drone, even though they have not shown proof of any of them, so that after they provoke a conflict, and drones are used during said conflict, they can pick one up later as proof of the 3 as-of-yet unsubstantiated claims they have already made.
      • by silanea ( 1241518 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:14PM (#38257844)
        Sure. Or maybe the US violated a sovereign state's airspace and had their aircraft shot down. Looking at both countries' track records for provoking armed conflicts through blatant disregard for international law the latter somehow seems the more likely theory.
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:08PM (#38257798) Homepage Journal

      Not saying this is what's happening, but there's a tactic of probing an enemy's air defenses to get them to switch on the radars they've been keeping hidden so you won't know to bomb them when the war starts.

    • I seriously doubt it. IF THIS IS TRUE, I suspect that this was actually in Afhgnistan and Iran or taliban were able to hijack control of it and push it into Iranian territory. As it is, Iran has claimed before that they had one and it was shown to be false. Personally, I tend to trust what comes out of AQ, as well as Al Jazerra, when it comes to reporting what we did, but Iran is whole other issue. They are constant liars.
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @01:23PM (#38257932)
    It seems like there has been some effort from the US to further increase tensions with Iran - including a string of three catastrophic, improbable but still officially accidental explosions at various Iranian industrial facilities. Add that to Stuxnet and targeted assassinations of Iran's brightest nerds, and it paints a pretty clear picture that we the West are trying to ratchet up tensions. On the other side, there are probably hardliners who are happy to play along. I don't like any of this escalation.
    • Replace "US" with "Israel" and you might be on to something. It's not like we've been especially good at controlling their behavior of late.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      If we wanted anyone in Iran dead, it would happen. If it's "failed attempts" then it was just to send a message.

    • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Sunday December 04, 2011 @04:57PM (#38259696)

      It seems like there has been some effort from the US to further increase tensions with Iran - including a string of three catastrophic, improbable but still officially accidental explosions at various Iranian industrial facilities. Add that to Stuxnet and targeted assassinations of Iran's brightest nerds, and it paints a pretty clear picture that we the West are trying to ratchet up tensions. On the other side, there are probably hardliners who are happy to play along. I don't like any of this escalation.

      My guess covert US involvement is at least partially to keep Isreal from feeling soo cornered it sees no alternative other than a unilateral strike against Iran.

      For all practical purposes Isreal == USA. If they do something stupid we pay the price for cleanup / consequences.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun