"This is the school in Iran where the captured U.S. stealthy drone is hidden" source says. Maybe.

Dec 09 2011 - 20 Comments

According to “CalebS” a very well informed source of this website who has already provided valuable advice to study the high resolution pictures released yesterday by the Iranian Republic Guard, the one marked with the green arrow in the Google Maps screenshot below is (or at least could be) the location where the captured RQ-170 was (and maybe still is) hidden.

It should be a building next to school, a countermeasure used to avoid an air strike aimed at destroying the (once) secret stealthy robot.

Since I can’t be sure it is the actual place where the “Beast of Kandahar” was photographed (so “speculation on!”), I have to trust what CalebS says. I have asked him to explain how I can be sure the building located at 35.270443,57.971007 is the right place based on a purely qualitative analysis because the only thing I can assess by looking at that building is that it is next to a school and located outside the town where the drone was supposedly lost.

Here’s what CalebS explained:

“It has the same construction characteristics that I would expect from seeing the photos of the inside. Plus take the angle of the sun in the photo and it looks like the building is facing the correct direction. Then look at the shadow of the building and it appears to be tall enough. Then see where the side door entrance is and that could be a path… Next look at the size of the building, seems to be the exact same size when measured using google maps satellite images.”

The description was not intended to prove anything. Since the source could not provide any photo or any other evidence that the school was the right place, he gave me some details that could help me in the verification process.

What’s your opinion?

Stay tuned.

This, along with all the previous articles on the Sentinel drone in Iran, can be found at the following link: https://theaviationist.com/category/captured-stealth-drone/

  • U

    -Plus take the angle of the sun in the photo and it looks like the building is facing the correct direction.
    * How can you tell if the sun coming from the windows in the pictures of the gym is taken at 10:00 am or 2:00pm?

    -Then look at the shadow of the building and it appears to be tall enough
    * Hard to tell

  • bjoern holst jespersen

    Judging the sun angle relative to the ground I agree it has to be close to mid day (sun angle calculators are available online).

    The construction indicate that – if the building is rectangular – the wall with the windows will be the longer wall. This in my view disqualify the building pointed to.

    I don’t know what time of year the google earth aerial photo is taken but the time of day seems to be about 9am and I would expect the shade to be longer. Height/shade length relation can be found using a reference of known height.
    The interior height of the building can be calculated by counting the number of layers of bricks. 3 layers is 20 cm. I think it would be easy to use that to estimate the length of the constructive sections. But I’m not sure the number of sections can be determined.
    A handball court is 20×40 meters which make the seize of the building likely to be about right.
    The building looks like from late 60’s to mid 70’s, if the architect was in tune with general trends.

    I have not made the calculations necessary to be certain about the orientation of the building, but that’s how it looks to me.

    • Interesting. Still not sure whether it is the right place or not. Anyway I think the U.S. will send a stealthy drone to check the place…:-)

      • arya

        I hope to… So another Sentinel is coming to be seized…:))

  • nico

    Great site David! Just discovered it thru DT. I am at regular at DEW, DefenseTalk and ELP. Hope to become a regular.

    Couple of quick thoughts:

    If this is the gym, any ideas on targets nearby such as university, research centers, institutes or bases? My idea is that this drone just might be doing the same kind of long endurance search it was doing over Pakistan with OBL. Maybe snooping on people linked to nuke research?

    Happy to see you caught the foam. At first, like many I am sure, I was like “is that thing made out of foam?” Sure looks flimsy, even thought you have to admit it survived a crash. My story line was maybe this drone on display is the result of the 2 previous “crashes” that Iran has said happened but never showed any evidence. Maybe they cobbled up those 2 wrecks with this one which was more intact. Would explain why they didn’t show the previous 3 wrecks and never shown us the crash sites. Why doesn’t Iran want to show us the crash site?

    Also, this drone does seem a bit odd/crude compared to the pictures taken at Kandahar. My impression was maybe this is an RQ170 but since we don’t know what were the original requirements, could this be a sub version of an RQ170? Maybe USAF/CIA “tailors” the RQ170 to the target it is flying over? If you need less stealth or sophisticated sensors, just use a less sensitive RQ170. Maybe they have a full spec RQ170 for really tough targets that require a whole different level of technology of RAM and sensors? We don’t know how many were produced or even if they are made just for each specific target/country?

    I don’t believe like it is being reported that some version of F35 radar is on board. Nose to small and that would be beyond dumb.

    My 2 cents,nico

    • Hi Nico,
      thank you very much for your comment, that provides some interesting points.
      1) the idea that they may have “melted” different wrecks is intriguing and scaring at the same time, since the U.S. would have lost more than one RQ-170.
      2) I don’t know if more than a single version was developed but this is a possibility.

  • Giuliano

    After a search it seems that this type of structure is very common in Iran. This type of field is used for volleyhandballsoccer match by schools and university. Here some examples.





  • nico

    It would make sense for Iranians to put it quickly in an area where it would be safe from US attack like a gym/school. It implies that they were scared that US would destroy the drone and that they didn’t trust their own air force to stop it.

    I haven’t seen a lot of work/analysis on the US reactions/comments. They seem a bit strange to me. Slow reaction, non denial and then confirmation that it is an RQ170.Like I read somewhere, it is almost like the US had to see the drone and said :”oh yeah, that one is an RQ170″. Kind of makes you wonder how many drones and what OTHER types do we having flying over Iran?

    • I think the problem is neither the U.S. nor Iran really knows what happened to that drone.

  • Jeff

    David please check out this extensive image analysis by Aviation Intel:


    • bjoern holst jespersen


  • b

    Folks, gym architecture is reused in every country. One does not build individual architectured gyms unless one has Olympic Games. There is one standard architecture and every school built in a certain time period will have the same gym architecture. (That is likely also a reason why they have chosen such a location.)

    • Sure.
      Indeed, the question is: do you trust the source? Otherwise, any school could be suitable and any search could bring you to similar buildings

  • Devin

    I think you should take a look at this, makes a lot of sense, you guys are once again on the same trail! Keep up the great work!:


  • mori

    holy shit!
    cmon you think that was a school?
    iran that can land rq 170 cant hide it? please…

    • Who said they landed it? They were able to recover it from the crash site but I don’t think they were able to take control of the drone.

  • m1

    looks like someone “bombed” that place already? what are those craters stretching north-east of that building? mini-volcanoes?

    • I didn’t notice those craters before. However, I don’t think they would miss the target by such distance with either Tomahawk, JDAMs or LGBs….

      • bjoern holst jespersen

        And the aerial photo is surely several years old. But I wondered too.

        Btw: my earlier expressed scepticism about the building being the right one, relates to the arguments mentioned. If the source has some first hand knowledge of the building, that would weigh in a lot (not asking).

        • Let me clear this thing better:
          The description was not intended to prove anything. Since the source could not provide any photo or any other evidence that the school was the right place, he gave me some details that could help me in the verification process.