Friday, December 16, 2011

UPDATE: Lost Drone or Trojan Horse?

So if you've been keeping tabs on the lost UAV in Iranian hands, you've probably read recently the Iranian claims that they brought the bird down with "electronic warfare".  Many experts have pondered on what techniques could have been used to bring down a "stealth" drone.  A popular theory has consistently been that the Iranians have spoofed the Global Positioning Satellite link between the UAV and its base and used that technology to "guide" the aircraft to their base in Iran.    It's even supported by a report done by the US Air Force on UAV vulnerabilities.  In a nutshell, the Iranians and these experts are claiming the Iranians tricked the UAV into believing the Iranians were the American base in Afghanistan in which it was supposed to be landing at.  What would this entail?  One theory I came across, via a comment on Bruce Schneier's original article on the lost UAV, was the Iranians could have used a mixture of high-gain antennas, a microwave link, and two aircraft following at the same speed as the UAV.

I have some issues with this theory from an intelligence standpoint, as it supposes a lot about the Iranians and their capabilities.
  1. It would lead you to believe the Iranians have a need to bring down a drone which is simply taking pictures that any high-resolution satellite could pick up albeit not in real-time.  The Iranians have known for quite some time that we've been using our technology to spy on them and what areas we would be "curious" about.  Heck, any fourth grade student whose ever played Call of Duty knows that as well.
  2. Second, it presumes the Iranians have the intelligence to know when exactly a UAV is flying and over which area.  Where would they get this type of information?  We have captured ZERO moles inside our government who would/could link sensitive drone technology/intelligence to Iran.  They would require an immense amount of verifiable data for such a project to be undertaken undetected and implemented almost flawlessly such as flight patterns (remember this is a "stealth" aircraft SEVERAL years in the making), satellite data which no other foreign government has used as of yet, real-time drone locations, and types of drones being flown.  Keep in mind the Beast of Khandahar wasn't "discovered" until 2009 at a base in Afghanistan
  3. Third, that it would have the time to detect and dispatch the necessary equipment to those areas.  Even if it had the intelligence necessary, it has little in the ways of "stealth" technology to test this against let alone test it without raising eyebrows in Washington or Tel Aviv. 
  4. Lastly, the Iranians never once thought to employ or use this in their campaign against the United States in Iran.  Seriously, why is this the first time the Iranians have showcased such a bird?  This presumes this is the first "stealth" UAV to fly over Iranian territory.  Surely, if they were as good as some pundits would have you believe, where are the other "stealth" drones?  I know - Iran, now claims to have seven other US drones.  What we know for a FACT is they have one verifiable drone in their custody.  How hard would it be to recreate a mock-up and say they "captured" the others?  Why now has the President requested just this one particular drone?  Because they only had this one and he already got what he wanted when it crashed.
  5. Just because something is possible does not make it plausible.  It is possible I could one day become the CEO of Microsoft, but given my lack of experience as the CEO of a major corporation, it is not plausible.  The same can be said of the Iranians.  They are great at many things.  And are a very good adversary.  However, this is a country that had a 7 year war with a country that took us a few months to overrun (barring the pseudo-quagmire that later ensued with the help of our Iranian "friends").  Having such technology could be useful, in many arenas and operational theaters for Iran, yet it only provides "fruit" for them now?
If I were in the business of punditry and consulting for major media networks, I would stick to the "massive intelligence failure" story.  However, I'm just a guy with a blog so I'll stick with what's plausible and wonder how a multi-million dollar "stealth" aircraft flown by the largest intelligence apparatus has a "mechanical failure" over an enemy's territory whose nuclear development program was brought to its knees by a computer virus invented probably by the aforementioned intelligence agency.


Anonymous said...

Sounds almost like the rants of a raving lunatic who is 'piss-washed' over the fact that knowledge and technology has improved way beyond the days if the Iran & Iraq war.

You also seem to have forgotten the proximity of both countries; If the US was in such location, they would have equally suffered a higher casualty. So while some part of your analysis might sound true to you.

I hope you dont forget the "possible does not make it plausible" adage because it is applicable to your stance on this issue

Scriven King said...

I can assure you I'm no "lunatic". Furthermore, your analysis is extremely flawed. Proximity has little to do with the merits of my argument which was simply that the scenarios posed by certain experts did not factor in the necessary intelligence the Iranians would have needed. As a matter of fact, without any detailed verifiable information leaning towards any intelligence leak, their conclusions are just as "piss-washed" as mine. What's more disturbing is the rather personal nature in which you appear to have taken my posts. I'm a guy who writes a blog. I'm no expert on UAV's nor do I claim to be. However, I have every right to question the conclusions of experts who claim to have drawn conclusions based on the same open-source information I received.

Perhaps, you're struggling with what intelligence analysis is. Are you not aware that within the intelligence cycle there is a period of time in which opposing views are heard barring the absence of empirical data which can provide irrefutable proof of any conclusions? Given your apparent level of ignorance, I have no other choice but to deduce you have no real grasp of the point I was truly making.

Furthermore, your point regarding proximity was nonsensical and lacked any depth to offer a substantial rebuttal to. You are right about one thing - I should never forget my adage that "possible does not make it plausible". While it is possible you're not an insane person mimicking someone with a shred of intellectual prowess, based on the arguments you've made, it just isn't plausible.

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