Monday, December 5, 2011

Iran Scores With Stealth UAV

Drones strike again!

The USAF lost what is reported to be a RQ-170 stealth recon drone over Iran. There is debate as to whether it just went rogue, or was shot down. In any case, US officials confirm that it is in Iran's hands. Us officials have also stated that the drone may have went 'out of contact' while operating over Afghanistan last week, and wandered over the Iranian border. While I have no way of knowing for certain, I'd call Bullshit on that one - the Taliban has no radar that would require the stealth qualities of the RQ-170, while Iran does. Iran says the drone went down 120 miles inside of Iraq, and appeared to be monitoring one of their nuclear facilities.

Controlled by the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron based at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, the drone is thought to have been operated out of Kandahar, Afghanistan, where it has been glimpsed occasionally over the past couple of years.

You can bet that the Chinese and Russians are lining up access to the robot right now, and they will have comparable ones in about 6 months. Hooray for drones!!!!

Lockheed-Martin builds the aircraft, which is intended to replace the manned U-2 spy plane. Quoted costs are around $6,000,000 per plane, but that seems awfully low to me.

UPDATE - Iran released a video, now on youtube, supposedly showing the captured drone. US officials have been quoted as confirming it. I have looked at this video several times, along with photos of the aircraft, and I think it is a fake. There is no damage visible at all, which is impossible, given that this thing's operating altitude is in the neighborhood of 50,000 feet., You can't seen under the drone. The lines of the drone look wrong - they are close to the pictures, but don't seem to be exact to me, and there are features that are certainly not stealthy. Also look at the droop of the wings outboard of what looks like an external seam - there are no such seams visible on any photo I've seen.

To me, this looks like a fabrication. I could be, and am probably, wrong - but too many things just don't look right about this. This think looks like a fiberglass copy. Why would Iran do this? Propaganda - showing off something intact is a lot more impressive for them than a pile of wreckage.

They might indeed have an RQ-170 - but I just don't think this video shows it.

Update II - I saw some recent photos of this particular drone operating recently out of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Based on those shots, I revise my opinion on the above video. It appears the wings either broke off, or have been removed in order to move it - resulting in the droop, and the apparent tape job to cover it up. The color of the drone is actually a flat neutral grey - the yellowish tint in this video has got to be because of the light it is seen in.

News reports are indicating that the military knew when and exactly where it went down, and had contingency plans to either retrieve it or destroy it in place. It was in a remote area, and it took the Iranians quite some time to get to it. President Obama vetoed those plans, and decided to let the Iranians take possession of one of the most sensitive pieces of intelligence gear we currently have, and by default hand that technology not only to the Iranians but to China and Russia as well. Way to go, Appeaser-in-Chief!!!

You know, what would happen to anyone else in America who willfully handed over top secret technology to our enemies? They'd be rung up on espionage and treason charges. If you're Barack Obama, or Bill Clinton for that matter, you get to explain it away as diplomacy, and you're put on a pedestal for the left wing kooks to look up to.

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