Thursday, December 8, 2011

Iran releases video of downed U.S. spy drone–looking intact

Photo credit: George Teichrib

In a rather "revoltin" development, Iran has now posted a video showing what looks like a RQ-170 Sentinel drone. I can't help but draw an analogy to the 1960 downing of a U-2 spy plane flown by CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers.

The United States thought the incredible high operating ceiling of the U-2 made it invulnerable to Soviet air defense systems. The CIA began overflying the Soviet Union in 1956 but it took the Soviets about four years of overflights to formulate a plan. The U-2s were based in Pakistan. Although the aircraft operate at extreme high altitude (80,000+), they are relatively slow moving. The U-2 is essential a jet powered glider.

By having spies in Pakistan, the Soviets were alerted when Powers' U-2 took off. This gave them enough time once the U-2 was picked up to fire three SA-2s missiles. One scored a hit, Powers was unable to activate the aircraft's self-destruct mechanism. The Soviets gained a tremendous asset in both the aircraft technology as well as the political embarrassment of having captured Powers alive. The whole affair directly contributed to the Soviets placing SA-5 missiles in Cuba leading to the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962.

The United States called on Kelly Johnson (who had developed the U-2) to develop an aircraft that would not be vulnerable to Soviet air defense systems. That aircraft was of course the SR-71 which flew higher and faster than the U-2. It is interesting to note that not a single SR-71 was ever shot down.

If the Iranian video is real, then the United States faces a very similar situation (minus a pilot). The RQ-170 contains not only the latest surveillance technology in use by the United States, it also uses the latest stealth technology. It is also the most advance unmanned aerial vehicle in use. Iran may have gained one hell of a jump on the US and will now be able to design counter-measures to defeat our stealth and drone technology.

It also shows just how concerned the United States has become about Iran's nuclear program. Sending a state-of-the-art stealth drone may single to the Iranian government that the US or Israel are planning some type of military action. Unlike Iraq, Iran has no been waging a protracted war with the United States. Its military is at full-strength and may also posses a nuclear capability. The US military has been engaged in a ten year war on two fronts (Iraq and Afghanistan). A military conflict with Iran won't be easy and won't go quickly. The Obama Administration also needs to be concerned should they decide to attack Iran how Russia and China will respond.

Yahoo! News


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reading festival tickets said...

Why was this drone not blown up when it crashed? I don’t mean a self destruct capability. I mean you Air Strike the drone itself with a 1000 lb bomb. Why is this country going so soft?