Iran Press TV
The Aviationist, citing a Chinese defence forum, reports that a group of Chinese experts may have arrived in Iran to inspect and collect parts of the the RQ-170 Sentinel drone that was commandeered by Iran in December. After the U.S. spy drone was downed in northeastern Iran on December 4, three U.S. intelligence officials told Bloomberg that their greatest concern was that the Iranians would “give Russian or Chinese scientists access to the aircraft” to gain “insight into the unmanned spy plane’s flight controls, communications gear, video equipment and self- destruct, holding pattern or return-to-base mechanisms.”
Russian and Chinese officials immediately asked for permission to inspect the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), according to the Tehran Times.
The Aviationist notes that “it’s extremely difficult to say whether this information is genuine” but says that he finds it “extremely likely that China has already inspected the drone and tried to copy some of the technologies.”
Joshua Wiseman of The Diplomat then reported that “Iran has significant political, military, and financial incentives to provide” China with access to the drone, noting that working with China could “generate benefits in terms of expanded Iranian access to Chinese military technologies, potential future access to UAV countermeasures, and Chinese diplomatic support in Iran’s confrontation with the West over its nuclear program.
And since Iran most likely lacks the technical ability to duplicate the advanced technologies onboard – whereas China is masterful at reverse-engineering and copying – it would make sense that they would be “negotiating the details of the cooperation on reverse engineering of RQ-170” as is reported.
The downing of the RQ-170 Sentinel – which is designed to be virtually invisible to radar and carries advanced communications and surveillance gear – could turn out to be a major coup for adversaries of the U.S.
The Iranian government announced that its cyberwarfare unit commandeered the drone and landed it safely while the U.S. claimed that an American error caused the drone to crash with sensitive data onboard while on a CIA fact-finding mission.
The aircraft was shown on Iranian TV with no apparent damage.
The technique Iran claimed to use – known as “spoofing” — creates false GPS signals that trick the drone’s GPS receiver to think that nothing is wrong as an outside hacker induces it to steer a new navigational course.
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