Feb 7, 2013

Decoding the Drones

Iran’s state television broadcast Wednesday what it described as video recorded by the American surveillance drone that crash-landed about 140 miles from the country’s border with Afghanistan in late 2011.

As The Associated Press reports from Tehran, the state television broadcast included aerial views of what the narration described as the American air base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, plus still photographs of an RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone at that base made public in 2011, and images of the craft being recovered in 2011 by Iran’s military.

The report also featured an interview with Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, identified as the head of the aerospace division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, who denied that the drone had simply crashed because of a computer malfunction, as American officials have claimed. “We were able to definitively access the data of the drone, once we brought it down,” General Hajizadeh said.

More footage said to have been recorded by the drone can be seen in a copy of the 24-minute Iranian report posted on YouTube on Wednesday by Lenziran, a site that monitors Iranian media.

In an analysis of the footage for Foreign Policy, the national security reporter John Reed observes that in one segment of the Iranian report, “the camera on this aircraft is positioned behind a rather complex nose landing gear assembly — a layout that matches grainy Web images of the Sentinel that show what looks like a compartment that could contain a camera positioned on the bottom of the airplane, just behind the front landing gear.”


The report, Mr. Reed adds, also features what appear to be authentic images of an American air base, “right down to C-130s parked on the ramp,” and “what looks like an MQ-9 Reaper drone (or possibly two) parked in an enclosed ramp — a drone pen if you will — complete with a walled perimeter and those tent hangars that are seen at expeditionary drone bases around the world.”

As The A.P. notes, on Thursday Iran’s Fars News Agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, claimed that Iran had also started to produce functional copies of the smaller, American ScanEagle surveillance drone it displayed on state television in December. The Fars report quoted Iran’s deputy defense minister, Mohammad Eslami, saying that the country had also established a “production line for the drones in foreign countries.”
(NY Times)


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Local Editor: Mohammad Tomazy, MD and Blogger.
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