Friday, December 16, 2011

Dude, Where's My Drone?


Our babe in the woods president is really playing hardball with the Iranians, who managed to get their grimy mitts on one of our high tech drones.  His statement:
"Let me be clear.  Bla bla bla..."
The Iranian response demonstrates that The Wages of Appeasement is humiliation...
On Tuesday, with Putin-like contempt, Iran demanded that Obama apologize instead. “Obama begs Iran to give him back his toy plane,” reveled the semiofficial Fars News Agency.
How did Iran get our drone?

I don't believe an America-hating mole in the CIA did this, as some of the more conspiratorial-minded have suggested.  It is possible that Iran Hijacked Our Drone, as a chest-thumping Iranian is now claiming.  They are not backwards people and they have help from China and Russia.

Add in our complacency (remember learning that Al Qaeda in Iraq had tapped into our unencrypted Predator drone feeds?), and it is a real possibility.  We are just about stupid enough to fly such advanced technology naked, believing no one is smart enough to take our toys away from us.  I don't know anything about our drone programs, but what the Iranian in the CS Monitor said sounds feasible if the aircraft's networks were not encrypted or if we failed to equip it with safeguards against GPS meaconing.

When will we start punishing complacency and incompetence?

Will anyone in our government or congress investigate this?  Does anyone get fired anymore?  General McChrystal is the only person I can recall getting fired for anything, and that was because he was stupid enough to invite a Rolling Stone reporter in on his staff's bull sessions where they trash talked the president (who the general voted for).

Another Plausible Scenario...

There could be a simpler, low tech answer.  A perfidious Pastun in the Afghan Army or some other group who is ostensibly "on our side" more than likely recovered the craft inside Afghanistan and trucked it over to Iran.
The CIA’s RQ-170 “Sentinel” drone captured by the Iranians last week may have gone down in Afghanistan and then transported to Iran by friendly forces on the ground, a former officer in the elite Quds Force branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told The Daily Caller. [...]
However, photographs and video footage released by the Iranians on Dec. 8, several days after they announced the drone’s capture, clearly show that both wings had been neatly severed and then reattached.

“This suggests that the drone landed safely and that its wings were cut off so it could be transported by truck,” the former Quds Force officer said. “I believe it was captured by the Taliban inside Afghanistan and transferred to the Iranians, who then reattached the wings,” he added. (Daily Caller)
I don't know what happened, but that seems the most likely scenario. We have no friends over there. The Afghan soldiers we train end up shooting at our soldiers, and the billions in cash we lavish on that hopeless land is split between Karzai's gang of bandits and the Taliban...
Truth be known, neither the Karzai regime, nor the Taliban warlords, want the Americans out of Afghanistan. The treasure we pour into that country sustains the ruling cabal and the Taliban alike. We are the straight man at the bazaar, the stranger fleeced by the locals. (Fouad Ajami)
We are suckers.  We're being played for fools.  We are throwing our technological pearls before swine, and we are shedding American blood for people who hate us. Obama needs to wrap up Afghanistan in the same manner he did Iraq.  We'll take our drones away and let them get back to shooting down kites.
 
What do you think?

UPDATE:  Here's a story from Aviation Week with lots of technical details:  Iran UAV Will Not Expose Latest Technology

32 comments:

Chakam Conservative said...

Again, I must wonder:

Since Obama gets credit for being a great CiC, since ObL and al-Awlaki were killed on his watch, will he take the blame for allowing one of our military drones to fall into the hands of the great unwashed?

Or did Bush somehow do this?

Silverfiddle said...

Chakam: Good questions. Halliburton was probably behind this...

Always On Watch said...

Six words: Jimmy Peanut and the helicopter crash. He also went "Blah, blah, blah."

And he lost the election 1980, too.

Of course, the really troubling part of losing this drone is reverse engineering. Iran will get help from the Chinese on that.

Jack Camwell said...

I once had to give my CO a briefing on Iran's UAV program. I can say, with some sense of certainty, that Iran getting a hold of one of our own UAVs is really not that big of a deal.

They have a robust drone program, and if their UAV technology is not on par with ours, it's at the very least extremely close.

Surveilance drones are likely just feeding simple visual data to whomever is managing it. It would be the same thing as a guy flying around with a video camera with a live feed. There's no real reason to encrypt it, because the feed is useless without a credible source to interpret its significance.

Think about it this way: why outfit an unmanned drone with our cryptographic equipment when a country like Iran can easily down it? These things don't have a self-destruct mechanism (I think), and then our important crap would be in their hands.

I don't think this drone thing is a big deal at all.

Always On Watch said...

I just stumbled across this related information. Excerpt:

... 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.

IF THIS IS TRUE, THEN THE DRONES ARE FINISHED.

AND IT MEANS THAT - IF THE WEST INTENDS ON A PREEMPTIVE ATTACK ON IRAN TO PREVENT IT FROM ACQUIRING NUKES - THAT DRONES CANNOT BE USED TO SOFTEN UP THE BATTLE SPACE.

Silverfiddle said...

No Jack, you take this too lightly. The geometry of the thing and its radar absorbing material are of intelligence value, as is the cameras, which I am sure are not your standard Walmart specials, probably more like a FLIR pod or better.

The controls and other electronics are also of value, especially for not only reverse engineering, but for figuring out how to counter and kill more of our drones.

You would definitely want to encrypt to control signal, otherwise anyone could gain control of it, and you can do it all through software, that, for example, clears itself upon touching down.

Also, the video feed itself is indeed valuable to the bad guys.

So yes, this is a big deal.

Silverfiddle said...

AOW: That is the meaconing I was talking about.

It's not the end. There are countermeasures. Battlefield technology, like tactics is a game of leapfrog. You do something neat, the bad guys learn from it and adapt, causing you to have to come up with new and different tactics.

My bottom line is that this was stupid, either by design or by operations, and people should be fired for it.

Ducky's here said...

Is it possible that the drone is a decoy? Little misdirection play?

At any rate the response is no different than Chucklenuts response when Chinese jets equipped with Israeli Python missiles forced down our observation aircraft. It was loaded with sensitive gear. We don't know what the drone represents.

I'm surprised there isn't a self destruct capability.

Proof said...

We sent the wrong drone over there. We should have sent Biden.

Jack Camwell said...

Silver, my point is that Iran doesn't need to reverse engineer anything from us, because their drone program is likely on par or better than ours. They were very actively employing drones in the gulf while we were still experimenting with the technology.

I'm looking at this from an intelligence perspective. A video feed with zero context would be completely useless to me. "OMG, they're watching us!" But they already know we're watching them. They already know that we've got spies on the inside and incredibly high resolution satelite imagery.

In terms of our overall intelligence program, drones probably account for less than 1% of all meaningful intelligence data collected.

Seriously, it's not like they boarded one of our ships and got a hold of all of our cryptologic/cryptographic equipment. THAT would be something to worry about.

Silverfiddle said...

@ Ducky: Is it possible that the drone is a decoy? Little misdirection play?

Anything is possible, and remarkably, I agree with your entire comment!

Proof: Comment of the week!

bunkerville said...

"We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said.
He is totally clueless, otherwise he would not reveal his ignorance.

Silverfiddle said...

@ Jack: I'm looking at this from an intelligence perspective.

So am I, and I think my experience, although a few years old now, is fresher than yours. I spent one year in the CENTCOM AOR, and although I did not work with drones, I do know a little about them and what they bring.

This is a big deal.

Mark Adams said...

"Is it possible that the drone is a decoy? Little misdirection play?"

That’s what I was hoping for, myself when the video came out of this "shot down", nearly pristine bird. But when the Pentagon had to plead with their commander-n-chief to either destroy it or recover it and Obama chose option 3, do nothing, it became obvious this was no decoy.

The Conservative Lady said...

The most discouraging thing about this whole issue is Obama's response. I am totally clueless as to the technology part of this, but I know that when the leader of the free world uses "pretty please, give back our plane", we're in deep trouble. He shows weakness.

KP said...

<< Is it possible that the drone is a decoy? Little misdirection play? >>

That was my reaction after watching and hearing our responses to Iran. If true, then as a poker player, we might want to be protesting more loudly. The bluff is a bit soft.

I am also surprissed at no self destruct or destruction from the sky. A second reason to consider misdirection.

KP said...

<< I know that when the leader of the free world uses "pretty please, give back our plane", we're in deep trouble. He shows weakness. >>

I think there is more to the story. I hope there is more to the story.

Leticia said...

I know on my blog I made a joke out of it and did not delve into the details of this catastrophe.

I was just appalled at Obama asking for the drone back. We all knew that wasn't going to happen.

But I thank you for adding a more serious note to this matter.

Anonymous said...

Well, let's not drone in about it.

There's no use in crying over spilt milk, is there?

The trouble with developing and possessing superior technology is that inevitably your enemies get their hands in it and all the advantage you've gained at great cost to yourself is lost.

In essence there's always the moral equivalent of a Rosenberg in the woodpile -- or more likely the White House these days.

~ FreeThinke

Finntann said...

Couple of points.

1. The drone did not need to be pirated or meaconed. In a systems failure, by nature of the design, the drone will go into a flat spin (autorotation). Basically, it falls like a maple seed. Autorotation generates lift which reduces fall speed. Given that in the Iranian pictures the underside of the drone is screened, it is highly possible that it is damaged from an autoration fall. This could also explain wing separation and reattachment.

2. Despite being called 'stealth', my understanding is the RQ-170 isn't all that high tech. The design of a flying wing itself is stealth when viewed from anything other than directly underneath. The RCS (Radar Cross-Section) of the leading edge is minimal, with energy being scattered by the leading edge.

3. It is not confirmed whether or not RAM (Radar Absorbing Material) is even used in the design.

4. It is a single-engine design designed for use over the FEBA (Forward Edge of Battle Area). Common sense would dictate that you don't install critical technology in a single engine aircraft used in a high risk area.

There are several good articles in Aviation Leak (Week), here's one of them, the others are easy to find.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/awst/2011/12/12/AW_12_12_2011_p19-402987.xml&channel=defense

Cheers!

Jersey McJones said...

European and American companies are selling sensitive communications technology to the Iranian regime.

http://topics.bloomberg.com/wired-for-repression/

This is unregulated, "Free Trade," get-away-with-whatever-you-want governance in-action, pun intended.

I listened to a quality, long, Fresh Air interview with the Bloomberg reporter in charge of this story.

http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=143639670&m=143705598

American private sector capitalists are propping up dangerous, oppressive, aggressive regimes for personal profit - and getting away with it, thanks to voters who so virulently believe the individual is the only thing that matters.

It's like they believe they exist in a vacuum, each a universe until themselves.

JMJ

Finntann said...

You mean like the aggressive communists and socialists?

Oh my!

KP said...

<< American private sector capitalists are propping up dangerous, oppressive, aggressive regimes for personal profit - and getting away with it, thanks to voters who so virulently believe the individual is the only thing that matters. >>

Some good stuff here ===>

Some American private sector businesses are supporting dangerous, oppressive, aggressive regimes for personal profit - and getting away with it!

Jersey McJones said...

Thanks, KP. That interview scared the heck out of me. In especially the growth in our government's interest in these technologies.

Trade, domestic or international, like this should be regulated. Our rights are at stake here.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

@ Jersey: Trade, domestic or international, like this should be regulated. Our rights are at stake here.

I agree with you, Jersey. Actually, it is supposed to be regulated, but our crony crapitalist government sells exemptions to the highest bidders. Friends of Bush, and now friends of Obama get special privileges.

Z said...

"What do you think?" What, beyond your last paragraph?
Nothing to add.

Jersey McJones said...

Well, Silver, here's the perfect example of the private sector corrupting the public - and in this case it is not "friends of _____," but rather what happens when important regulatory bodies are gutted and rendered impotent. This is also why a free and investigative press is so important to our lives and nation.

This is also why I never understood this whole "leftist," "socialist" "statist," nonsense about Obama. When it comes to the real important issues, the difference between the GOP and the Dems is negligible. This is institutional corruption that goes far beyond the parties, and we as a people had better rein it in, or this country is doomed.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: "this whole "leftist," "socialist" "statist," nonsense stems from government taking more and more decisions away from us (and declaring the US a battlefield where you can get indefinitely detained by the US Military).

The GOP did it too, Obama has just amped up the pace.

KP said...

I agree with JMJ, that when it comes to the most important issues the differences between the two parties is minimal.

What is troubling to me is that those issues are not ones most media, office holders and candidates focus on.

Teresa said...

Obama begged Iran for the drone? Oh boy. That's a schoolboy response to an adult situation. However the drone was lost to Iran is complete utter incompetence.

KP said...

I missed him begging. However, it was odd that he asked for it back unless it was an excercise. The whole thing is strange. I think it will become more clear with time. I have to think there is more to the story.

Anonymous said...

"The GOP did it too, Obama has just amped up the pace."

Enough evidence has come in that clearly indicates a sad, horrifying truth:

The UNI-PARTY exists for the purpose of giving "The People" the UNI-DIGIT SALUTE while they crouch obsequiously waiting for the next command from their masters -- the Captains of Global Industry and the International Bankers who fund them with the wealth they've stolen from The People and the increasingly worthless fiat currency they print at the mint.

There IS no "Opposition" anymore -- only devils who've joined hands in a united effort to rape and rob the public.

The "contests" you see, and the "issues" that arise each day are nothing more than a Punch & Judy Show staged to keep you engrossed, amused and distracted in front of the teller's cage, while the gangsters rob the vault.

~ FreeThinke