Sunday, April 29, 2012

Iranian Sentinel

So, the US has more or less come out and stated that Iran did indeed capture an American RQ-170 drone last December.  Now Iran is claiming that they have managed to get into drone's the on board memory and have numerous details about where the drone has been and that it has been recently upgraded.  More than a few from both the national security and information technology communities have gone into great detail on why this is probably b-o-l-o-g-n-a.

Iran's history of exaggeration is neigh legendary.  To believe Tehran, they have developed a modern fighter that has a range 3,000 km (but looks suspiciously similar the the US F-5s that the rest of the IRIAF flies).  They also have developed an anti-aircraft weapons system that is "one of the world's best."  It also happens to look suspiciously like four soviet era guns attached to each other.

Still, Tehran does need to be given kudos for its innovation.  While the Saeqeh fighter may be nearly identical to the F-5 it is still an indigenously produced fighter, something that few countries in the world produce.  Similarly, Iranian engineers and scientists have come up with clever ways to reuse and repurpose their equipment in interesting and novel new wars, often significantly increasing capabilities.

Going back to the RQ-170, what remains to be seen in this story is what Iran will choose to do with the drone. Claims that the government will reverse engineer the hardware and software are probably unrealistic.  Iran's domestically made combat drone, the Karrar, is essentially a modified clone of a 1970s era targeting drone.  There is simply too much of a technology gap, particularly in the area of C2 infrastructure for Iran to make a Persian Sentinel.  It is likely that they will derive some best practices and make a few jumps in their abilities, but little more than that.

On a slightly different note, here is an interesting article on USAF planes near Iran, complete with gratuitous F-15 footage.

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