Tag Archives: Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution

Iran unveils new UCAV modeled on captured U.S. RQ-170 stealth drone

Iran has unveiled a new UCAV based on the captured American RQ-170 stealth drone.

On Oct. 1, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) unveiled a new combat unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) called Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) during an expo showcasing the latest UAV projects of IRGC’s Aerospace Division.

Belonging to the Simorgh class, the new drone is a long-range unmanned aerial vehicle capable of carrying four precision-guided bombs, modeled on the American RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone captured in 2011.

Commenting on the latest achievements by the IRGC forces, Commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said that “today Iran has better aviation systems and equipment than the US and expressed hope that one day Iran will have the same might in the UAV industry as in the missile sector.”

So, it looks like the Iranians have not only copied the RQ-170, but they have also developed something new based on the captured “Beast of Kandahar” whose crash landing in Iran remains a mystery. A sensibly smaller drone that retains the same wing shape as the Sentinel but lacks the frontal air intake of the Lockheed Martin’s stealth drone.

Moreover it’s not clear where does the landing gear (if any) comes out from.

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As widely reported on The Aviationist since 2011, there are various theories about it.

Tehran claims it was hacked, but the stealth drone, undetected by any radar, might have crash landed for a failure somewhere in eastern Iran where it was found (and where the U.S. could not blow it up.)

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.

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.

This Author still believes that the most likely theory is that the stealth drone, undetected by radar, crash landed in an uninhabited area in the Iranian desert for an unknown failure.

At the beginning, the U.S. decided not to disclose the news because the robot might have crashed in the mountains, where no one would ever find it, or have suffered extensive damage that would make it useless in the hands of the Iranian analysts. And, by giving the news, they would have admitted they had undertaken spy missions inside the Iranian airspace, thus confirming they had joined Israel in the covert war on the Iranian nuclear program.

However, a shepherd found it almost intact and the news spreads, forcing the U.S. to admit the loss. Iran was given a great, unexpected opportunity to show it to the world and to make some propaganda “advertising” some of their (existing) capabilities in the Electronic and Cyber Warfare fields.

Needless to say, this is just one of the many scenarios drawn since the drone’s first pictures appeared on Iran’s State TV depicting the “Beast of Kandahar” in a school’s gymnasium: a scenario that does not involve any jamming, GPS spoofing, satellite-link encryption breaking and control link spoofing. In fact, whilst Iranians have surely shown skills and know-how in these fields, some theories about taking over of a UAV by means of jamming and hacking *seem* to be a bit far-fetched in spite of known vulnerabilities affecting U.S. drones.

Iran has hunted/recovered two more UAV types since 2011: two RQ-11s and at least one ScanEagle that had penetrated the Iranian airspace from the Persian Gulf.

Anyway, in February 2013 Iran released footage that proved it has, if not literally decoded, at least accessed some of the data stored inside the U.S. stealthy RQ-170 drone captured in December 2011.

A video filmed by the Sentinel clearly showed footage recorded by the drone’s underbelly camera: the area surrounding Kandahar airfield (KAF) during landing; a small building (possibly being spied); a C-130 and at least one Reaper drone among shelters at KAF.

Hence, the drone’s internal memories still contained some useful information and were not fully automatically erased as a consequence of the loss of control procedure. To such an extent some data, including video recordings from the drone’s FLIR turret, was recovered.

On May 11, 2014 Iran unveiled a copy of the Sentinel UAV drone allegedly manufactured by reverse-engineering of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 captured in December 2011. The Iranian version of the Sentinel drone was displayed next to the original one.

On Nov. 10, 2014, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, announced that a domestic version of the RQ-170 drone, modified to carry out both bombing and reconnaissance missions, had made its maiden flight.

A video showing the copy of the Sentinel flying somewhere over Iran, filmed both from the ground and from an accompanying helicopter was released.

The photographs emerged on Oct. 1, 2016, show that the Iranians have modeled a new UCAV on the famous stealthy RQ-170 captured in 2011. What’s next?

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Image credit: Sepahnews, @Azematt

 

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This Seahawk helicopter FLIR video shows Iranian vessel firing rockets near a U.S. aircraft carrier

This video shows that an Iranian ship actually fired rockets near USS Harry S. Truman.

As reported by several media outlets on Dec. 26, 2015 an Iranian vessel approached aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) while transiting the Strait of Hormuz and fired rockets in a direction away from the American flattop.

According to some U.S. Central Command officials, 20 minutes before the incident occurred, the Iranians announced over maritime radio that they would carry out a live-fire exercise.

Few days later Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ spokesperson Gen. Ramezan Sharif claimed that none of its ships fired rockets near the American flattop.

But, as reported by Marinecorpstimes.com, a video of the incident released on Jan. 9, 2016 by U.S. Navy officials to Military Times in response to a Freedom of Information Act request proves that Gen. Sharif statement was wrong.

In fact, as shown by the following Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) footage taken by a U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter operating from the U.S. aircraft carrier, an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) fast inshore attack craft (FIAC) fired several unguided rockets near the USS Harry S. Truman and other Western warships and commercial craft.

Noteworthy this is not the first interaction between Iranian forces and the U.S. Navy, but while these “encounters” are usually professional, this last one was not, since the event was contrary to efforts to ensure freedom of navigation and maritime safety in the global commons.

A claim confirmed by Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, who affirmed that even though the rockets traveled away from the carrier, firing weapons “so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional and inconsistent with international maritime law.”

 

Iran destroys mock U.S. aircraft carrier in naval wargames

Do you remember Iran’s mock Nimitz class flattop? Here’s what it was built for.

On Feb. 25, a mock U.S. aircraft carrier, was destroyed by missiles launched by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps missiles during the IRGC Navy’s massive Payambar-e Azam 9 (The Great Prophet 9) drills in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

The model had first appeared in April last year, when images of the mock USS Nimitz class ship being assembled in an Iranian shipyard on the Persian Gulf had spread through social media.

Although the purpose of the fake carrier was not clear back then we mentioned the possibility the giant warship (adorned with several airplanes) might have built to test weapons or serve as a training tool to develop tactics to attack a U.S. flattop in the Persian Gulf exploiting its vulnerabilities.

According to the FARS News Agency, the model came under attack and was destroyed by missiles and rockets fired from tens of IRGC speedboats; also a number of the IRGC cruise and two ballistic missiles were fired at the mock US aircraft carrier.

H/T to Giuliano Ranieri for the heads-up

 

Here’s the latest Iranian jet mock-up

Tehran has unveiled a mock-up of a trainer/light attack plane.

Mashregh News, a news website affiliated with the IRGC, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, has published a blurry picture of a mock-up of a new Iranian jet dubbed “Borhan.”

The new jet is an evolution of the HESA Shafaq, a domestic design for a subsonic, light attack/combat trainer aircraft made of radar-absorbing material that never made it past a full-scale mock-up shown in some pictures that you can find on the web.

Both the Shafaq and the new Borhan, are clearly inspired to the Russian Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer and have an almost identical front section and large LERX (Leading Edge Root Extensions). Dealing with the tail section, whereas the Shafaq had two canted vertical stabilizers (like those of the HESA F-5E Saqeh), the only available image seems to suggest that the Borhan was designed with a single large tail, almost a perfect replica of the Yak-130’s one.

According to Mashregh News, the aircraft’s top speed will be Mach 0.65, its empty weight will be 2,800 kg and its payload will be 1,200 kg. Range should be 1,800 km.

The mock-up depicted in the first image carries fake AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

Noteworthy, unlike what happened with the F-313 Qaher stealth jet, this time it would look like the Regime is not pretending the new aircraft is anything more than a mock-up.

Let’s see if this mock-up will eventually turn into a real plane some time in the future.

Image credit: Mashregh News

 

Iran releases first (somehow suspicious) video of its RQ-170 stealth drone copy in flight

Eventually, a video allegedly showing the copy of Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drone manufactured by reverse-engineering of U.S. Sentinel drone captured in December 2011 was released.

On Nov. 10, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, announced that a domestic version of the RQ-170 drone, modified to carry out both bombing and reconnaissance missions, had made its maiden flight.

“The footage of its flight will be released soon,” he told reporters.

Eventually, a video showing the copy of the Sentinel flying somewhere over Iran, filmed both from the ground and from an accompanying helicopter has been released.

The footage of the flying drone looks genuine; what seems to be a bit weird is the sequence of the RQ-170 landing on the runway: more than a UAV, the aircraft moves and reacts to the remote pilot’s input as a small remotely piloted scale model….

Since the first prototype was a smaller copy of the Sentinel (60% the size of the original RQ-170) which flew about four months ago, one might wonder whether the landing drone depicted in the footage is not the full scale replica but the smaller original prototype.

Furthermore, some frames of the landing video seem to be computer generated.

Judge by yourself at min 06:49.

H/T to Soufiane Nourredine for the heads-up