drones, Foreign Non-Coalition, Iran, Soutwest Asia

Iran claims to clone US stealth drone, but it looks fake | Ars Technica

The Iranian military claims to have successfully duplicated the RQ-170 Sentinel drone that was captured in Iran in 2011, and it has put the drone on display alongside the original. The home-built version, Islamic Revolutionary Guard officers claim, could be used to attack US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. But outside observers believe the copy is about as capable of that as the mock-up of a US aircraft carrier Iran built, allegedly for a movie set.

On May 11, Iranian television broadcast a report from an exhibition by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force in Tehran, where Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was shown the two unmanned aircraft by military officers. “Our engineers succeeded in breaking the drone’s secrets and copying them,” an officer said in the video broadcast. “It will soon take a test flight.”

The RQ-170, built by Lockheed Martin, is a turbofan-powered unmanned aircraft flown by the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron, part of the Air Force’s 432nd Wing (the Air Force’s drone command). The aircraft first gained notoriety as the secretive “beast of Kandahar” during operations in Afghanistan in 2007. The Air Force is believed to have purchased 20 Sentinels.

Little is known about their operational role, though their “flying-wing” airframe appears to have been designed for stealthy reconnaissance and surveillance missions. It’s believed that the aircraft captured in 2011 by the Iranians was being used to conduct surveillance of nuclear facilities.

The Iranians claimed that they were able to jam the Air Force’s data link to the drone and take control of it, bringing it down for an almost soft landing. They also claimed that the drone was recovered nearly intact and that the Revolutionary Guard was able to download data from its onboard systems. While the US government disputed those claims, later reports indicated that it was within the realm of possibility that the Iranians had managed to take over control of the drone.

Just what sort of “secrets” the RQ-170 surrendered to the Iranians is not clear. But aviation industry analysts who saw the footage of the Iranian clone of the RQ-170 have said it appears to be a fake—nothing more than a cheap fiberglass mockup put together for propaganda purposes, similar to the mockup of a stealth fighter the Iranians displayed last year. (Footage of that plane “flying” appeared to actually be of a small radio-controlled model.)

“It seems their fiberglass work has improved a lot,” an industry source familiar with the RQ-170 told US Naval Institute News. “It also seems that if it were a functional copy, versus a detailed replica, it wouldn’t necessarily have the exact same landing gear, tires, etc. They would probably just use whatever extra F-5 parts or general aviation parts they had lying around.”

via Iran claims to clone US stealth drone, but it looks fake | Ars Technica.

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Foreign Non-Coalition, Iran, Joint Combatant Commands, Policy, Soutwest Asia, Space

Quicklinks: security and defense news for Sept. 11, 2009

Armed Forces News Service: Task force created on 9/11 still guards New York.

Iran offers a plan to eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide, and prevent proliferation.

Politics Daily reports on information ops in Afghanistan.

Washington Times: Al Qaeda still “determined foe”.

Reuters: US will stick to Iraqi pullout plans.

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Defense Department, Iran, Policy, Soutwest Asia

Iran’s Sejil missile ‘threatens Europe’

Iran’s Sejil missile ‘threatens Europe’ .

“Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel’s ballistic missile defense program, says Iran has made a “technological and strategic breakthrough” with its Sejil-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which will be able to hit a swathe of European states in three to four years.That assertion…intensified concerns that Iran has stepped up its drive to acquire ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. He said that the two-stage Sejil-2 has an estimated range of 1,560 miles, not 1,250 miles as previously thought, and that the successful testing of a solid-fueled missile on May 20 was a major breakthrough for Iran.”

Watch for this being used as justification of additional work on the land-based ABM defense, and, as a result, further diplomatic tension with Russia over that system — either that, or the Obama administration is going to have to come to some sort of agreement with Russia over cooperative policies on Iran and on missile defense.

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Defense Department, Iran, Policy, Soutwest Asia

Iran's Sejil missile 'threatens Europe'

Iran’s Sejil missile ‘threatens Europe’ .

“Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel’s ballistic missile defense program, says Iran has made a “technological and strategic breakthrough” with its Sejil-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which will be able to hit a swathe of European states in three to four years.That assertion…intensified concerns that Iran has stepped up its drive to acquire ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. He said that the two-stage Sejil-2 has an estimated range of 1,560 miles, not 1,250 miles as previously thought, and that the successful testing of a solid-fueled missile on May 20 was a major breakthrough for Iran.”

Watch for this being used as justification of additional work on the land-based ABM defense, and, as a result, further diplomatic tension with Russia over that system — either that, or the Obama administration is going to have to come to some sort of agreement with Russia over cooperative policies on Iran and on missile defense.

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Afghanistan, Coalition/Allies, Defense Department, Soutwest Asia

Stavridis: Afghanistan Situation Challenging, But Winnable

DefenseLink News Article: Stavridis: Afghanistan Situation Challenging, But Winnable.

The situation in Afghanistan is “extremely serious,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis wrote, but he expressed confidence that “the coalition, working with the Afghan people, will ultimately win.”

Adm. Stavridis, the new NATO commander and former commander of US Southern Command, is at least not pulling punches.  He laid out what he sees as the keys to success in Afghanistan, and none of them are easy. Stopping collateral damage, balancing civil and military activities, and training the Afghan forces–all of these are pretty traditional counterinsurgency tasks made all the much harder by the geography and political economy of Afghanistan.  And then there’s owning the information war:

— Effective strategic communication. Messages must be well defined and communicated to the citizens of Afghanistan as well as to the 42 nations that make up the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force there, Stavridis said. Meanwhile, he cited the need for a truthful, realistic antidote to negative Taliban messaging.

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