The Christian Science Monitor released information from an exclusive interview with an Iranian Engineer that claims they hijacked the US RQ-170 Stealth Drone.
According to the report, the Iranians attacked the drone in two stages, first the “Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel” and then then the automatic return to base function kicked in on the drone. – “By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain.“
The Iranians allegedly fed it erroneous GPS location information, tricking it to land in Iran:
“The “spoofing” technique that the Iranians used – which took into account precise landing altitudes, as well as latitudinal and longitudinal data – made the drone “land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the remote-control signals and communications” from the US control center, says the engineer.”
The engineer also claimed that the altitude of the landing site was slightly different than the one at the US base causing it to land hard and damage the landing gear.
Could the Iranians have tricked the drone into believing that it was landing at a US base? Could they have intercepted and spoofed military GPS signals?
“Even modern combat-grade GPS [is] very susceptible” to manipulation, says former US Navy electronic warfare specialist Robert Densmore, adding that it is “certainly possible” to recalibrate the GPS on a drone so that it flies on a different course. “I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but the technology is there.”
Okay, I am still not completely convinced that Iran pulled this off. They would have had to know where the stealth drone was going to be, hit it with an RF jammer and then flood it with false GPS signals all the way back to the Iranian base.
Possible? I guess it could be, I still don’t see Iran pulling this off by itself, maybe with Russian technical assistance? The thing still could have crashed from a hardware malfunction as US claims (explaining the damaged undercarriage) and the self-destruct failed to operate.
Apparently the US is working on creating a better military navigational system, two $47 million contracts were awarded in September. But if Iran does has devices that can trick our military GPS, we have some serious problems.
(Thanks go out to Philo for the heads up on this article)