Category Archives: Rogue States

Updated: Iranian newspaper ads makes fun of Lockheed Martin after U.S. stealth drone capture but video showing alleged Sentinel is a doctored LM Polecat promo

The mysterious episode that led to the capture of the U.S. stealthy drone has been on the pages of the newspapers all around the world. On Dec. 10, the Iranian daily Hamshahri published an advertisement, put by an unidentified person, making fun of Lockheed Martin the U.S. company which has developed the “Beast of Kandahar”.

According to the Tehran Times, the advertisment reads: “The latest product of Skunk Works ready to be launched.”
Skunk Works is an official alias for Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs, which is responsible for a number of famous aircraft designs. Among them the U-2, the F-117, the F-22 and the F-35, respectively, the spyplane of the Gary Powers downing, the stealth plane downed by the Serbians during Allied Force in 1999; the fighter plane with stealthy features grounded for several months by oxygen systems problems in 2011; and the world’s most advanced and costly stealth multirole aircraft.

If the authenticity of the alleged captured drone (on display in what looks like a gym of a school) is still under debate, I think that, in spite of the title, everyone will easily agree that the one in the video below is not an RQ-170.

Original version available here: http://irnafilm.ir/NSite/FullStory/News/?Id=2204

What drone is that? Simple, the Iranians doctored a Lockheed Martin Polecat promo video. Same footage!

In the meanwhile, more information about the captured RQ-170 have surfaced. For instance, in the first article I published after seeing the first pictures of the drone in Iran I said that the desert/beige color scheme of the robot, previously seen in what seemed to be a grey camouflage, was unusual therefore interesting. However, Schuyler Denhaman, pointed me to an interesting image already published on Militaryphotos.net showing a nose close up picture (taken in 2010) of a Sentinel whose color is much similar to the one of the drone showcased by the Iran Republican Guard.

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/

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

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/

Captured U.S. stealth drone: let's analyze the latest pictures. Real robot with few foam parts? Last hope: a trojan horse

As some U-2 spyplanes are landing in RAF Fairford on their way to some Middle East forward operating base (to undertake some reconnaissance missions over Iran, replacing the RQ-170 drone?), let’s have a closer look at the high-resolution pictures I published yesterday.

First of all, let me tell you that I believe the one showed by the Iranian Republican Guards is not a fake. Even if, as I will explain, there are still some details quite difficult to explain, the main reasons why I believe that is the actual drone “lost” during a reconnaissance mission are:

First it’s extremely accurate. Considering the small amount of details previously known, I don’t think Iran could be able to create a mock up in such a short time. The news of the downed drone came from Iran and it was later confirmed by U.S. sources (even if details differ). If news had spread in the opposite direction probability of an off-the-shelf 1:1 model made available for cameras would have been higher

Second if it were a fake or reproduction, why would Iran give it this desert/beige scheme when previous pics showed a (dark) grey scheme?

Now, what do pictures tell us about the downed drone?

I’m not an intelligence officer nor a professional photo analyst but with the help of the several thousand visitors of this website (and in particular “CalebS”) that commented the previous posts or sent me emails, I think I’m able to identify some noteworthy details, deliberately ignoring considerations about the actual drone shape.

1) the robot is stored in a sort of gym. For sure it is not a hangar or aircraft recovery shelter. Floors are polished wood with a painted circle that seems to be in the center of the room. If that is true is raises some interesting questions such as the (visible) doors are not big enough to get the plane in. Especially when you consider the size of the room and the size of the
main door in the photo. Furthermore:
a. The windows in the top of photo 3-2 have steel wire protecting them
b. Seats of some sort in the bottom of 3-2
c. Complete lack of security except for the 2 guys and the camera man
d. Several speakers on the wall

2) There are signs of water or clear liquid on the floor which is both extremely interesting and weird.
3) The most interesting thing is there are bits of foam on the floor and camo net that I have highlighted (see point 4 below)
4) Wing damage on the right wing (left side of 3-2) looks like it was seriously damaged/separated from the fuselage yet the damage looks more like the wing was cut off (to get in the building or transport it after recovery?) then a crashand shear. Too clean. Another possibility is that some parts of the drone are . As pointed out by a visitor if you look at photo “3″ and the banner on the starboard side wing: looks like the banner is “pinned” to the wing as if the wing is made of foam.
5) Probably, the bottom of the airframe is carefully hidden because the drone was seriously damaged as a consequence of the crash landing. Why did the Iranians want to cover it? Maybe because the type of damage would be coherent with a belly landing, without an extended undercarriage. This would prove that the drone was not remotely controlled by Iranian operators that have been able to disrupt the satellite link and guide it to a “safe” landing. On the other side, a completely uncontrolled landing would have had more evident effects on the airframe.

Quite likely, as soon as the Iranians found the drone, before any U.S. could find it to secure and blow it up, they may had cut the wings off to transport it as quickly as possible to a safe location, hidden from spy-sats. Maybe they had to remove some any self-destruction mechanism or GPS tracking system. They studied the inside of the drone to find out some details about its cameras, communication suite, storage capability, etc. and then repaired and prepared it to show it to the public.

There’s one last possibility (let’s say an American “hope”): the drone is real but it was deliberately sent and made crash in Iran as a sort of trojan horse, carrying malware or other Stuxnet-like viruses. A bit far fetched but intriguing.

Stay tuned.

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

05:25PM GMT update

Artist Ugo Crisponi has sent me the following image he created after noticing that almost all artworks and renderings available to date have a minor flaw: the nose of the drone is drawn as convex with the two sections of the fuselage forming a pyramid section. However, as one of the previously available images taken at Kandahar shows, the actual nose is concave.

Exclusive: first high-resolution close-up pictures of the stealth drone in Iran. With signs of belly landing.

After reading my previous article about the RQ-170 seized by Iran (Breaking: Iran news agency releases first images of captured U.S. stealthy drone), “Jeff” a visitor of my site suggested where to download the first hi-resolution pictures of the almost intact “Beast of Kandahar”.

Images seems to confirm that the drone is real, of a desert-like color (quite different from the dark grey one of all the previous pictures) and above all, small scratches appear on the left wing, as if the stealthy drone crash landed on its belly, without extracting the landing gear, or maybe because the undercarriage collapsed due to hard landing.

Update: weird signs appear also on both wing roots as if they were damaged too. Someone suggesting it is putty and that proves the drone is just a 1:1 scale model.

Once again, stay tuned.

Image credit: via “Jeff” for TheAviationist.com

Breaking: Iran news agency releases first images of captured U.S. stealthy drone

Here they are.

The first images released by an Iran news agency of what should be the U.S. RQ-170 drone crash landed in Iran on Sunday. Noteworthy, the drone wears a sort of desert color scheme much different from the dark grey one applied to the example photographed years ago at Kandahar airbase. According to sources  the recovery team couldn’t find it to blow it up before it went into Iranian hands.

A video is available here (you’ll find some screenshots below, showing Iranian soldiers inspecting the almost intact robot).

Update: for those asking if it is a fake. No, I think it’s real. If it was fake they would do it in dark grey (as in all available pics to date).