X-47B UAV Passes Catapult Launch Test

Northrop Grumman’s X-47B stealth drone was successfully launched from a land based test catapult this week. The system simulates the stresses that the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) will endure when launched from a real Air Craft Carrier. And as you can see in the video above, it seemed to do very well!

The X-47B is a demonstrator model for future carrier based UCAVs. The X-47B brings a lot more brains to the table than previous drones. According to reports this drone can be flown entirely by artificial intelligence.

Sea trials on a real aircraft carrier will be undertaken next year.

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Did Iran Recover Encrypted Data from the Downed Stealth Drone?

Iranian officials released claims yesterday that they have finished their reverse engineering of the downed US stealth drone and will begin to make a copy. They also claim they have recovered encrypted data from the UAV.

On Sunday, Iranian Brig. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated, “The Americans should be aware to what extent we have infiltrated the plane, our experts have full understanding of its components and programs.”

The Iranians released information they say was encrypted flight and maintenance data from internal databases:

“This drone was in California on October 16, 2010, for some technical work and was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan on November 18, 2010. It conducted flights there but apparently faced problems and US experts were unable to fix it.”

They also claimed that the drone flew over Bin Laden’s compound two weeks before American Special Forces captured the  Al-Qaeda leader.

Though some reports are saying that what the Iranians have actually recovered is basically no more than the drone’s “Black Box”. Iranian Gen. Hajizadeh states, “Had we not accessed the plane’s software and hard discs, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve these facts”.

US officials are denying that Iran was able to recovered any encrypted data. Today, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated, “I don’t want to get into the particulars of that program, but I think I can tell you based on my experience that I would seriously question their ability to do what they say they have done.”

Because the stealth drone is a classified system, the public may never know the truth. Iran is most likely not working on reverse engineering the drone by itself, both China and Russia would love to get their hands on this state of the art drone.

If Iran did somehow recover encrypted data, one would have to ask, could they use the information gained to compromise another UAV? The US is using an ever increasing number of automated systems and especially drones as force multipliers.

Back in 2009, now retired USAF Lt. General Dave Deptula stated that during that year, the Air Force trained more drone pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined. As robotic system usage increases, the US must be sure that the systems are protected against subversion and in the case of captured hardware, that the unit will not give away information that could be used to compromise other systems.

US Confirms Iran did not Hack Drone

A congressional official has confirmed that Iran did not bring down the US Stealth drone with it’s “cyber warfare” skills. That the downing of the drone in fact was due to a malfunction, according to a Foxnews article:

We have looked at this eight ways to Sunday. I can tell you it was a U.S. technical problem. The information (data) was not lining up and it was not the result of Iranian interference or jamming.”

This confirms what we stated in December, that Iranian “Cyber Commandos” most likely did not bring down the drone.

Information from a 10 week CIA review seems to point to a malfunctioning data stream. Information from the faulty stream may have led the drone operator to land the UAV, though this has not been confirmed. Also, and more importantly, because of information gleaned from the stream, the UAV may have not correctly dumped classified data.

The RQ-170 is programmed to dump sensitive data in cases of malfunctions or crashes. Though the information is encrypted, and Iran most likely could not retrieve the data on their own, this could still be a major blow to the United State’s UAV program.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Press TV, claims the Foxnews article a victory:

The report supports Iran’s claims that the reconnaissance was cyberjacked by the army’s electronic warfare unit and eased to a safe landing while deep in Iranian territory on December 4.

Apparently the Iranian Press only read a couple paragraphs from the article. I find it odd that they didn’t include a link to the Foxnews article. Maybe Foxnews is filtered out by Iran’s online censorship program?

On December 12th, President Obama asked Tehran to return the drone. We have found out that Iranian craftsman are hard at work duplicating the drone. And though they will not return the original, they will return one that they have made directly to President Obama. The will send him… a pink one:

“The models began release this week, and the makers say they have already set aside a pink one for President Obama – who has asked for Iran to return the original US craft.

“He said he wanted it back, and we will send him one,” Reza Kioumarsi, the head of cultural production at the Ayeh Art group was quoted as saying on Iranian state radio.”

How nice of them…

Iran Builds New Drone – And So Can You

We have all heard about Iran claiming to bring down the American Stealth Drone with a sophisticated cyber attack. According to their claim, they somehow tracked our RQ-170 stealth drone , deciphered our military GPS system, blocked our communication to the drone, then spoofed the GPS signal making the drone think that it was returning to base, and finally landed it with minimal damage.

Once they had it, they are now trying to convince us that they can extract data from the encrypted on-board database, reverse engineer the drone and use the technology to make their own UAV drones that are comparable or more superior to the US.

But how advanced is Iran’s home grown UAV program?

An Iranian college recently released information on a UAV that they have created:

At first it looks like a full size leer jet, until you notice the car in the background. Another thing that stands out of this homegrown Iranian Drone is the word “Honda” on the side.

Hmm… Either this means “Death to America” in Farsi or could China be helping them build a new class of advanced drones?

Apparently you too can have your own Advanced Iranian UAV. Our researchers have found not only a blueprint for the classified design, but a complete parts kit and instruction manual (written in English!):

You can even buy one for yourself or a friendly third world country.

Tell them Ahmadinejad referred you for a 10% discount! Order in the next 15 minutes and get the new Ahmadinejad bobble head doll with realistic “Death to America” action.

Act now, supplies are limited!

(Okay, before my inbox gets flooded with e-mails, the CIA starts to investigate me or Model RC Planes Inc. gets hit with angry people who want a 10% discount or an Ahmadinejad bobble head doll, this is just a joke!  🙂 )