If Iran has decoded all data in the captured U.S. stealth RQ-170 drone it’s no big deal

The Iranians say the RQ-170 was hijacked using Jamming and GPS spoofing attack tailored on known vulnerabilities of the UAV highlighted in Air Force official documents.

In the last of a series of similar claims, a senior Iranian commander announced that Tehran has just extracted all the data stored in the RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone which was captured last year.

“All the intelligence existing in this drone has been completely decoded and extracted and we know each and every step it has taken (during its missions),” Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, according to the FARS News Agency.

Noteworthy, he went on to say: “The US President (Barack Obama) had told the Israeli officials that the drone was tasked with spying on Iran’s nuclear program, but our experts found after decoding the drone that it had not performed even a single nuclear mission over Iran.”

Although it is possible that the batwing’s internal memories were not completely wiped out following the loss of satellite link with the ground control station in spite of the automatic erase that should start as a consequence of the loss of control procedure to prevent data from being recovered, it’s hard to believe something really interesting was still stored on the Sentinel when it was recovered.

Most probably, pre-planned waypoints, routes, other navigation stuff, along with some radio communication setting to establish satellite links with the remote control station: something quite “interesting” to understand the procedures used by the U.S. to spy on Iran, to guess the preferred routes, the operating altitudes, but nothing really crucial, especially if we consider that, unlike the X-47B, the RQ-170 is no longer the American cutting edge robot tech.

On the other side, as already explained, the circuitry, lenses, memories and sensors that survived the crash landing might have been evaluated, tested, copied and, possibly, improved with the help of Russia and China.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. I am really at loss to understand why Americans think that they are the only ones who can develop high tach weapons.
    Other countries have capable scientists, and a country like Iran is noted for its engineering prowess. Or can somebody tell me if it is Americans that are developing Iran’s nuclear technology, their satellite and rocket technology, or can somebody tell me if it is Americans that helped North Korea develop their own nuclear technology and space rocket system.
    American military technology is all noise and propaganda, if not why is it taking them over a decade to defeat the Taliban”s rag tag army, or why they had to bribe their way out of the Iraqi war. America is making noise because they have never really fought a war against a real national army. Let them go try the Russians for size, and stop flexing their muscles for attacking Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Mali. They could not even stand up to fight in Somalia.They ran abandoning their so called advanced weaponry. Shameless country.

  2. We are the only country that is sophisticated enough to stay one step a head of all other countries like Russia and China. The USA is setting the new way to fight wars it will be done through new technology that is unmanned which will gather information in real time which we do not have to risk our soldiers and advanced technology that is still used flown by man or we send in drones so we do not risk our 5 generation fighter jets. We can send in several drones and allow it to pick up the whole area of the battle field and send in what we need to destroy or dismantle what our enemy has on the battle field without them knowing we were their. We are so far a head of any other country. We already are setting the tone for the 6th generation fighter jet and it suppose to be out by 2025. So what that means We are already testing the plane and it will be producing them in 2015 without the public knowing because our government lies to protect itself and its people. So they always set a date for propaganda but if you look at our history when we set a date, we already have two prototypes and with in a couple years we produce any were from 30 to 150 stealth fighters and no one know they exist while the USA says we will not have that kind of technology for another 15 to 25 years. Go USA! That’s why we are the bad ass number one country and all you other countrys like China try to copy our shit or try to out do us while were one step a head!

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