Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Iran in possession of RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone

According to Fox News:

Military sources confirmed that the Iranians have the RQ-170 drone, which is so advanced that the U.S. Air Force has not distributed even a photo of it. However, they did not say that the Iranians shot down the spy plane, as was reported by Iran's official IRNA news agency.

"This is a big prize in terms of technology," a senior U.S. military source told Fox News.

Fars News Agency provided the following details on the capture of the RQ-170:

"An advanced RQ-170 unmanned American spy plane was shot down by Iran's armed forces. It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran's Armed Forces," a military official told FNA on Sunday.

The drone had been downed with help from the Iranian military's electronic warfare unit.

Stephen Trimble at a FlightGlobal blog postulates the capture might be linked to a relatively recent Russian delivery of the Avtobaza ground-based electronic intelligence and jamming system:

Only six weeks ago, Russia announced delivering the Avtobaza ground-based electronic intelligence and jamming system to Iran. Most Russian weapons exports to Iran are blocked, including the proposed transfer of the S-300 surface to air missile system. But there is a key difference between a SAM battery and a jamming system. The S-300 can vastly complicate a strike on an Iranian nuclear site at Natanz or Qoms. A jamming system, such as the Avtobaza, is unlikely to be used to defend such a site because it could interfere with the radar of the S-300 or the Tor-M1 SAM battery.

The Avtobaza, moreover, is designed to jam side-looking and fire control radars on aircraft and manipulate the guidance and control systems of incoming enemy missiles. It would be the perfect tool to target and perhaps infiltrate the communications link that allows a UAV to be controlled from a remote location.
File photo: Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aerial vehicle

File photo: Russian built Avtobaza


Anonymous said...

Ah Hah! I see that the usual doubting Anons are shocked suprised and have nothing to say!
as I said before USA, Nato, will get there Ass handed back to them if they try to attack IRI! or Syria! Note that the Ruskies have arrived at the port of Tasar in Syria with Warships on stand by and kunetsev Aircraft Carrier!

Now lets here you self hating Anons
Talk some tough shit Now! It's WW3
Fool! Yonkhit Super Sonic Missiles
coming to your doorsteps! How do you like those Apples?

Anonymous said...

Oh dear.But look at the bright side at least it's not a captured nuclear armed US submarine.
Stealth is no secret anymore but the engine technology might be of some use.This is blown totally out of perspective.

Paul Iddon said...

Stealth is overrated.

Mark do you recall the Serb general who shot down a USAF F-117 Nighthawk with an old Soviet SA-3 in 1999 during the NATO operation in Kosovo?

Anonymous said...

Yeah Paul, but Iran isn't claiming they shot it down. They're claiming their "cyber" unit brought it down with EW capabilities, which it total BS. The truth is that is malfunctioned and now Iran is going to use it for propaganda. No surprises there.

(Chuckle at the first anon post...)

Gifted one said...

so paul iddon now declares stealth "over rated"? I guess it's only over-rated when Iran proves to have counter-measures, it wasn't over rated when the same drone type penetrated Pakistani airspace multiple times in the hunt for OBL, and i guess nothing has improved in stealth tech since 1999, infact this must be the first time it's been used since!
That's the way anti-Iran propaganda goes...now back to all the shame-faced "Anonymous" posters and doubters. When PressTV reports it, it's a lie, but if it comes from Fox News then it's got to be the god-honest truth. Talk about a colonial mentality!

mat said...

Is that what those idiots say 'stealth'?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:18 AM

So a spy plane has been captured.That's not going to be a game changer is it? And you honestly believe Iran can fight NATO which includes the USA and win?
Go ahead and fantasize if that makes you happy poor fellow.

As for Syria the people will hand Assad's ass back to the Russians!

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:07 AM

And you honestly believe Iran can fight NATO which includes the USA and win?

Nobody expect Iran to fight and win against NATO. However, NATO will find out that Iran is not a pushover. Otherwise, they would have dealt with Iran a long ago.

Paul said...


Anonymous said...

Gifted one you certainly are gifted in writing nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Pakistan has the capability to shoot down , jam and capture this "stealth drone" as well , but the slave government and the peace loving army have sacrificed Pakistan's sovereignty .It is a shame to see what Pakistan's Army was in the 1960's (could defeat UK too) and what is today.And one thing more , the US thought that it could enter Russian airspace with this drone , now it can't even enter Iran's. Russia should be more aggressive toward Europe from now as NATO is now more aggressive even more than the Cold War era . NATO is declaring war against Russia , China and some shameless Russians are chanting against Putin and similar types in China against the "oppressive political system" .

Anonymous said...

Too Funny. US/Zionists have usual egg on their ugly faces. The fact is that Iran downed this supposedly "stealth" drone and now watch-out for mass manufacture in China. Perhaps, the deadbeat US losers can buy some better versions from the Chinese now at discount prices with the new American peso once called dollar.

Anonymous said...

Once again these Pakistani Islamic fanatics claiming to be Iranian have come on this site and polluting it with their hate driven drivel and usual fairytale nonsense.

Pirouz_2 said...

I have a question. I made a small search on what this Avtobaza is. So far as I understand it is usefull for "jamming" (basically creating noise and/or false radar echoes) RADARs. I don't see how it can help in detecting/tracking a stealth aircraft?
Now let's forget for the moment that I can't see why we must necessarily look for some foreign equipment that Iran must have used to bring down the aircraft (after all believe it or not neither Russia is so advanced in electronics, nor Iran is so backward). For the moment let's not talk about that. Assuming that Iran has used this Russian equipment to hijack the drone, it still does not explain how Iran was able to detect and track a state-of-art stealth aircraft. After all in a real war scenario, Iran wouldnt try to hijack F22s and B2s, it would just try to shoot them down and once it is able to detect and track them there is no reason why it wouldnt be able to shoot them down.

Anonymous said...

i am wondering every one become export of uav in few days but do not look the reality of this the most important capture of rq170. this uav is worst of hunderd of billion dollars for any country to pay to get the technology simply 85% to 90% of intire us technology is in this aircraft exist on 5 jenaration of stealth and million of hours usa put to make many type of aircraft and iran got it for nothing that is national disaster for that country by not realized iran technology how complax would be and many of us just try to egnore the fact just be real this is the greatest victory for iran and greatest lost to usa that why eu and usa just complaitly silaince and why? the export know whatis the real lost.

Pirouz_2 said...

In such events where there are massive secrecy and a huge amount of lies and disinformation, it is very hard to go anywhere beyond speculation and at best educated guesses. I think as time goes by and more and more information comes out, the picture will clarify a bit more.
However, based on the very limited amount of information available, I did some thinking and reading, and I think there are several plausible theories (please some one who knows more about military matters correct me if you think I am wrong anywhere or that I am missing something):

1) Best case scenario from USA's point of view: Some mechanical/technical malfunction made the air craft go out of control in the middle of the mission and the aircraft self-landed in Iran. This is the best case scenario for USA because it means that the aircraft was neither detected by Iranians nor was it "jammed" or "hijacked" and Americans should only curse their misfortune.
It is still a very bad scenario because apart from the possibility of reverse-engigineering and duplicating the design (which are FAR easier said than done, be it by Russians or by the Iranians), a close examination of the aircraft, and all its systems may help Iranians/Russians/Chinese figure out how the thing actually works and figure out its weak points and defensive measures against it.
This also fits the fact that the aircraft came down some more than 200KM from the Afghan border. Had the Iranians actually "detected" it then one must ask why did they let it penetrate 200KM into Iranian airspace before bringing it down? Can anyone think of any plausible answer to this question?

2) The aircraft's communication link was jammed and that made it lose control and then glide down. This is a hell of a lot worse of a scenario than the scenario number 1 because apart from the negative consequences mentioned in '1', it also means that Iranians were able to detect and track a state-of-art stealth aircraft. (As an Iranian who does not wish to see another criminal war I hope that this one is the case).

3)Iranians did not just jam the communication link, but also took control of the aircraft! This would literally mean a knock out blow to all the billions up on billions of dollars which USA has spent on R&D of worthless equipment which are only good for mass killing of defenceless women and children in underdeveloped countries such as Afghanistan and Libya, and when it comes to any adversary which is slightly more sophesticated they cease to be of any use at all. (actually from my point of view this would be even a better scenario than number 2, but for reasons too long to be mentioned here, I think it is unlikely)

Anonymous said...

i believe two days before the rq170 to be capture iran hand airdefence forces of iran has shut done usa x45c in asfahan area near nuclear side of natanz 10km south west of natanz area,

dan said...


Well, Fars news is now showing video of what purports to be an intact RQ-170.

In response to your query - 200km inside Iran is not really a big deal, if anything it's an advantage, as a mission to destroy or recover the item is exponentially riskier than if it's close to the border - there's a real possibility of downed planes and live pilots, captured personnel etc.

Pirouz_2 said...

Thank you very much for your reply. It makes sense.
So which one of the three scenarios that I mentioned sounds more plausible to you? and can you elaborate on your answer?

dan said...

Well, it definitely wasn't shot down, so the two options are lucky break due to a glitch or a hijack.

The way that the drone is presented doesn't permit us to see if there's damage to the undercarriage - and it may be that the Iranians are trying to preserve some ambiguity in that respect.

I'd guess that the more likely scenario is that the drone glitched and someone caught a lucky break in that (1) it was found, and (2) it glided down to a smooth landing on a soft surface - ie the desert. It's hard to quantify the odds on that happening - so it's a marginal one. The track and hijack scenario remains enticing, but, not proven.

To be honest, I'm surprised that the Iranians showed it off - the far better strategy is to maximise the ambiguity surrounding the event. It's possible that they're trying to signal something; it's also possible that they're indulging in a risky bluff.

It's worth bearing in mind that all parties will be indulging in disinformation and deception over this incident.