Friday, December 16, 2011
According to an Iranian engineer working on the U.S. CIA drone, Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to guide the “lost” stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the U.S. military.
Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently trying to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could not be named for his safety.
Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone’s GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.
“The GPS navigation is the weakest point,” the Iranian engineer told the Monitor, giving the most detailed description yet published of Iran’s “electronic ambush” of the highly classified US drone. “By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain.”
The revelations about Iran’s apparent electronic prowess come as the U.S., Israel and some European nations appear to be engaged in an ever-widening covert war with Iran, which has taken the form of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, explosions at Iran’s missile and industrial facilities, and unleashing the Stuxnet computer virus that set back Iran’s nuclear program.
President Obama has increasingly turned to drone technology in recent years in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as intelligence-gathering in what many see as the lead up to the coming war with Iran.