20 thoughts on “New Evidence Iran Cracked Communications System of U.S. Stealth Drone, Downed It – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I have enjoyed reading this blog for the past few months, and as we have seen, most of your reports have turned out to be true. I believe that your claim that the Iranians downed this drone is not true.
    First of all, why would you take what an “Iranian engineer” said at face value? Its pretty obvious that this is part of their propaganda. All those quotes in the CSMonitor article have lots of buzzwords in them, but contained zero technical data that would support their claims of taking down this drone. In addition, the vulnerabilities of the GPS system have been known for quite a long time, and thats why alternative systems (such as inertial navigation) are used in conjunction with GPS. If GPS jamming was all that was needed to take down a drone, you would see drones coming down left and right in Iran.
    And as for the claims of vulnerable communications systems- just because a vulnerability exists does not mean it can be exploited, and the Iranians havent shown any evidence that they did. Yes, there have been reports of people watching the video feed from predator drones, but watching the video feed is very far from accessing the command & control systems of the drone.
    I dont see why its so hard to believe that the drone fell out of the sky because of a major malfunction. As you can see in every one of the pictures that the Iranian government has publicized of their seized RQ-170, the entire bottom part of the plane is covered. I dont see any reason to do this other then to cover the fact that the bottom part of the drone had been badly damaged, probably when it landed.
    Yes, these drones are very robust- but bugs happen. And when you fly lots of missions over Iran every month, the probability of a drone falling increases.

    1. The Iranians have offered hard evidence & credible explanations regarding the drone. The U.S. has offered nothing, no credible explanation, no proof, nothing. Sorry, but I don’t accept any party offering explanations backed by nothing. Those are automatically discredited. The Iranians have also promised to exhibit 7 drones they’ve downed, 4 U.S. & 3 Israeli. If they do this & we see them will you then accept their claims? As for damaging the bottom of the drone, of course it may be damaged. How do we know where it landed & on what type of surface. Any landing in the middle of nowhere would involve some likely damage to the craft.

      My money is on Iran’s explanation on this one. If you ever come up with any real evidence to support yr pt of view, let us know.

      1. No the Iranian did not provide hard evidence.
        All the Iranians provide is a picture of a drone, which was clearly was damaged during landing.
        If they took control over the drone, directing it to the nearest Iranian airfield will not be a complicated task, and the drone will not suffer any damage during landing.

        All the Iranians provided at this point – is a make beliefs. an evidence would be a video of the drone flying, an analysis of it’s systems etc.
        The did not provide that yet.

        1. If they took control of the drone they could land it wherever they wanted or anywhere the drone actually came down including in the dessert or mountains or anywhere. Who are you to say where they could or should have landed it? It landed where it landed. The fact that it was damaged (if it was, yr claim it “clearly” was is unproven) is irrelevant. Whatever the Iranians provided, you provided far less. So stop wasting our time with yr nonsense theories & irrelevancies.

          1. Richard, If you are taking control over a drone, and you can guide it, why would you land it on a mountain ?
            Wouldn’t you rather guide it to the nearest airport ?

          2. Again, you & I don’t know the circumstances of what happened. You don’t know whether they had total control or partial control. Anything could’ve happened. But we do know the Iranians have the drone & that it’s virtually intact, which reinforces many of their claims & refutes the U.S.’

          3. If the iranians really captured 7 drones ( 3 US and 4 israeli) by GPS spoofing or whatever way they claim it to be. Then why did they show only one drone? Were the other drones damaged beyond recognition? In that case their claim of taking control of the drone is nothing short of a propaganda stunt.

        2. There has been an acknowledgement that the drone was damaged during landing. I don’t think there’s any reasonable question about that.

          The explanation was that the GPS spoof could not accommodate differences in altitude between the landing site in Iran and the home base. There was a 5m difference in altitude between the spoofed landing site and the home base, which resulted in a hard landing.

          Everybody knows where these US drone bases are and you can see them on GoogleEarth, but getting a precise altitude within a meter would be a challenge. If the drone is programmed to land at 4362 feet above sea level and it actually lands at 4372, it’s gonna’ be a very bumpy landing — worse than even United Airlines’ typical landings.

          Also note, that GPS spoofing is not “taking control” in the sense the spoofer can fly the drone. GPS spoofing just makes the drone think it’s in a different place than it is; control still comes from Yucca Lake or Creech Nevada during the flight and is turned over to the home base for landing. The vehicle is just in a different place than the controller thinks it is. This is not to say Iran didn’t or couldn’t take over complete control, but if so, that is even more impressive.

          Also, please note that there is a big difference between “jamming” and “spoofing” GPS. Jamming is fairly easy because the GPS signals are only 10^-17 watts when they reach earth. That’s been compared to seeing a 25 watt light bulb 10,000 miles away. So if you can get the right frequency, it’s easy to throw out a jamming signal that swamps the satellite signal and buggers the GPS system. But a drone immediately knows it has been jammed and can resort to hardwired autopilot instructions. On the other hand, a spoofed vehicle doesn’t “know” it’s been spoofed.

          Here, the engineer said the drone was both jammed and the autopilot coordinates were spoofed. That’s impressive. If they had just jammed, then the drone would have just gone on home on autopilot and landed.

          There is growing concern over how easy spoofing is, at least with respect to civilian GPS. You can do it with readily available off-the shelf equipment called GPS simulation gear. Of course, military GPS is isolated from the civilian system and operates on encrypted data, so this was a pretty major spoof.

          Google “GPS spoofing” — there’s heaps of technical data online, including a report from Los Alamos warning how easy it is to do. This is of particular interest because the FAA is about to open the skies for local cops to operate their own drones. This law enforcement use will presumably be on the civilian GPS system. The hackers will be all over them.

          1. Iran might be planning to showcase to the world the other captured drones (7 of them) as they claim publicly. Let’s just say they have captured the 7 drones before they actually did got hold of RQ-170 then what might be the logic behind showing RQ-170 alone.

            Surely, publicly showing all the captured drones would have definitely proved iranian’s claim. Unless they follow up on their plan to show the other drones, their statement is a lie.

            I am just saying if someone can lie and deny so that,
            “If someone catches you in a lie it will take so long for them to do so that you’ll already be onto the next story and the media and public will be scrambling to catch up.”

            Simply lie and claim.

  2. If the Iranians have found a way to spoof GPS signals on the secure channel used by the US military, the implications are far beyond their ability to bring drones down on autopilot. The entire US (and presumably Israeli) military machine relies on GPS guidance. If these signals can be spoofed, cruise missiles can be turned round and sent back to their originators, and US naval and air force units can be guided into battle against each other. No wonder the Iranians are not intimidated by US or Israeli sabre-rattling.

    1. Very thought-provoking idea.

      Iran has an ace in the hole of some sort, and GPS-spoofing may well be it. They seem awfully smug and resistant to Israeli/US threats.

      Remember Saddam? That dude was dancing like a puppet on strings trying to show the world his missiles were short-range and he had no nukes. That dude was scared, and for good reason.

      Remember Gadahfi in 2003? He suddenly came in out of the cold when he saw what happened to Saddam. Next thing you know Beyonce and Mariah Carey are doing Gadhafi-gigs attended by Microsoft guy Paul Allen and America’s most wanted jailbird, Lindsay Lohan, and Occidental Oil is drilling in the Libyan sand. Lockerbie? What Lockerbie?

      The Iranians don’t show no respect. Maybe it’s because if they can land enemy drones in their own back yard, they can probably get enemy missiles to do a 180 mid-flight. Why would you need your own missiles when you can “borrow” an incoming Jericho?

      This theory suggests a new twist on the technological race: can Israel/US harden their GPS control systems before Iran tests its first nuke? If Israel/US get pushed to deploy vulnerable missiles and aircraft to try and stop Iran’s nuke effort, who knows where the bombs will end up? Saudi Arabia would be a first guess.

      1. If the U.S. can’t do to incoming enemy missiles what the Iranians just did to our drone, does this reduce our nuclear deterrent to our manned bombers? Would that give enemies of the U.S. something close to a first-strike capability? How dependent are our manned bombers now on GPS guidance?

  3. I was afraid of this happening….the rumor is, when the Iranians are done looking at the plane, the Russians and Chinese will get it. I would not be suprised if technicians from both of those countries are in Iran now, stripping the guts out, looking at the software, etc.

    Even without this GPS jamming technology, they have the ability to shut down the Straits of Hormuz and deny Gulf oil to the world. I think the unstoppable force has finally met the immovable object, and what happens now are two possiblities: the belligerants shelve their plans while talking tough, or StupidWar III begins and the world economy goes right down the crapper. I’m hoping for plan A, preparing for plan B.

  4. ” This new development will hold U.S. protestations up for even greater disdain. They will also cause future claims by the U.S. on these and related subjects to be treated dubiously.”

    HOWEVER, the (dear, ever-wise USA) Congress doesn’t read or heed this stuff — or understand it. what it reads and heeds are specific voting and speaking instructions from BIG-ARMs, BIG-ZION, and other elements in the oligarchy.

    So what effect do you expect from all this when the USA is run by folks who deny reality 6 times before breakfast every day? How hard would you have to shake any USA Congressman (other than someone like Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich) to bring them to their senses?

    1. shake them upside down so their money falls out.

      Gingrich waxed poetically, drooling over his hypothetical about how terrorist attacks created by the government on the people would have a beneficial psychological effect.

      Newt Gingrich. Former House Speaker. Current GOP Frontrunner. He appointed JOHN BOLTON as his wish-list Secretary of State.

      …LOL WHAT?!

      1. RE: “So what effect do you expect from all this when the USA is run by folks who deny reality 6 times before breakfast every day?” ~ pabelmont

        ONE POSSIBLE EFFECT – Legendary investigative journalist I.F. Stone famously observed: “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.”

  5. There is a huge technical difference between jamming a frequency GPS or other systems and uploading new GPS coordinates into the drone software. The second is way more complicated.
    If you examine the events in Iran, the fall of the drawn didn’t slow down not the paste at which factories are being blown to pieces.
    That leads me to believe that this is another part of the Iranian Photoshop administration campaign or a US operation.

  6. I think it is highly probable that Iranians had indeed hijacked this drone. If this is the case, then this is a good example of what happen when you “misunderestimate” your enemy.

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