Did Iran really "reverse engineer" the downed American spy drone?
April 23rd, 2012
04:45 PM ET

Did Iran really "reverse engineer" the downed American spy drone?

Iran has claimed to have discovered the secrets of American drone technology by "reverse engineering" a U.S. spy drone that went down in Iran last December. According to the Tehran Times, the government claims it has learned enough to build "a copy of the plane and had acquired information about the classified surveillance drone program."

Speaking on state television, the commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards' air force said some of what Iran has learned involves have encrypted information stored onboard the drone–the commander even sharing supposedly classified information to prove they'd worked through American encryption:

I am giving you four codes so the Americans understand just how far we have gone in penetrating the drone's secrets.

In October 2010, the aircraft was sent to California for some technical issues, where it was repaired and after flight tests, it was taken to Kandahar (in Afghanistan) in November 2010, when a series of technical problems still prevailed. In December 2010, it was sent to an airport near Los Angeles for repair of its equipment and sensors, and flight tests. The drone was then sent back to Kandahar.

Even a partial success at understanding the inner workings of the U.S. drone, an RQ-170 Sentinel, could be extremely damaging to American national security, according to a story on Gizmodo:

While the Iranians don't have the technology to build something like the RQ-170, the cracking of its encryption systems is damaging enough. Not only they would be able to use this information to their own advantage in the future, but you can bet that these secrets are going to end up in the hands of Russians and Chinese military.

The U.S. secretary of defense said Monday that he doubts Iran has been able to reverse-engineer anything. "I would seriously question their ability to do what they say they have done," Leon Panetta told reporters traveling with him to Colombia.

Tonight on Erin Burnett OutFront, experts will dissect Iran's claims–and discuss the potential damage Iran could do if it indeed has "cracked the code."

Filed under: Iran • National Security
soundoff (One Response)
  1. kevinkatovic

    First off I cant resist when I see something like this.... Have you seen some of the stuff that IRAN exports that pass's as " Consumer Electronics " ? I doubt cracking the encryption would of happened since their Mr. Coffee doesn't seem to be all that advanced. That being here nor there something like the RQ 170 could of been a DECOY that went down to set the iranians into decoding something that wasn't even whats in use today. As well I am sure the pentagon would change the codes, We arn't selling toy helicopters here with easy to decrypt IR technology after all. Much like a missile you need two sets of unlocking algo's to ensure that everything works correctly we have come a great deal farther then the day of the enigma machine.

    P.S. I'm proud of you stand up kid I counted the words this time and never needed to take my shoes off.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply

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