The Russian Nuclear Horn Continues To Grow (Daniel 8)

Russia to continue developing nuclear forces in 2017 to deter any aggression – General Staff

The development of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces in 2017 will be maintained at a level that would guarantee the containment of any aggression against the country, said Valery Gerasimov, Chief of Russian General Staff and Deputy Defense Minister.
“We will continue to develop the Russian Armed Forces in 2017,“ Gerasimov said during a meeting with foreign military attaches in Moscow on Thursday.
Just like in 2016, “we will pay particular attention to keeping our strategic nuclear forces at a level that would ensure the containment of aggression against Russia and its allies, meeting the parameters under the treaty on strategic offensive arms,” he said.
© Anton Golubev
Russia would also continue building up the capacity of its aerospace defense system and push ahead with efforts to promote its national interests in the Arctic, the General Staff chief said.
Such set of measures will enable the Russian Armed Forces to “adequately respond to emerging security threats” and ensure the country’s “peaceful development,“ he said.

„We will continue the activities aimed at increasing the level of confidence and reducing tensions. We are open to dialogue insofar as our partners are,“
 he said.
According to Gerasimov, Moscow views “expanded presence of NATO’s forces near the Russian border” as a challenge to the country’s security.
The other reasons for concern are “the development of North Korea’s nuclear program,“ increased terrorist activity in Afghanistan and growing instability in the Middle East and North Africa over the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, he said.
Islamic State attempts to create a “global caliphate” and the situation in eastern Ukraine are also among the worrying factors, the General Staff chief said.
As for international security challenges, Gerasimov has urged special attention to the fight against terrorism, which he named as a “key threat.”
„It’s necessary for all the international community to combine its efforts under the leading role of the UN to combat it,“ he said.
The General Staff cited as an example the joint efforts of the Syrian government forces and the Russian Aerospace Forces, which lead to a turning point in the fight against Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other militant groups.
He also said that Russia successfully cooperates with Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Jordan and Israel in tacking terrorism in Syria.
The General Staff head has called “transparency” an important like of work for the Russian military, reminding that “despite NATO’s unilateral decision to curb contacts with Russia’s Defense Ministry, we continue to inform everybody, including NATO member states, of the main activities of operational and combat training of our Armed Forces.”
The nuclear issue has been named among the most important in Russia’s new Foreign Policy Concept, which President Vladimir Putin has signed on December 1.
The document has called Washington’s development of its global missile defense system, which has components in Eastern Europe, a „threat to national security,” and stressed that Moscow is „reserving the right to take relevant counter measures.“
According to the Foreign Policy Concept, Russia stands for the creation of „zones free of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction, especially in the Middle East.“
„Despite [the fact] that a threat of a large-scale war, including nuclear war, initiated between key states remains low, risks that [such states] may be involved in regional crisis, escalating them, are growing,“ it warned.

Russia Tests Nuclear Submarine Drone

BY: Bill Gertz Follow @BillGertz
December 8, 2016 5:00 am
U.S. intelligence agencies detected the test of the unmanned underwater vehicle, code-named Kanyon by the Pentagon, during its launch from a Sarov-class submarine on Nov. 27, said Pentagon officials familiar with reports of the test.
No details were available about the location or results of the test.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis declined to comment. “We closely monitor Russian underwater military developments, but we will not comment specifically about them,” Davis said.
Development of the new drone submarine was first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon in September 2015 and then confirmed by the Russian military two months later. Russian officials said the secret program was mistakenly disclosed.
Russia calls the drone development program the “Ocean Multipurpose System ‘Status-6.’” The developer is Russia’s TsKB MT Rubin design bureau, the defense industry entity that builds all Russia’s submarines.
The two U.S. nuclear missile submarine bases are located at Kings Bay, Georgia, just north of the Florida border, and Puget Sound in Washington State.
Russia’s nuclear weapons development in recent years has alarmed American military leaders in part due to a new doctrine adopted by Moscow that increases its reliance on nuclear forces in a conflict. The new doctrine indicates that Russia will quickly escalate to the use of nuclear arms to compensate for its aging and outdated conventional forces.
U.S. intelligence agencies also have detected Russia’s development of new low-yield tactical nuclear weapons—arms that could be used more easily in regional conflicts.
Former Pentagon official Mark Schneider said the test of the underwater nuclear delivery vehicle poses a new strategic threat.
“The Status-6, a nuclear powered, nuclear armed drone submarine, is the most irresponsible nuclear weapons program that Putin’s Russia has come up with,” said Schneider, now with the National Institute for Public Policy.
“Status-6 is designed to kill civilians by massive blast and fallout,” he said, noting that such targeting violates the law of armed conflict.
According to a Russian document disclosed on state television Nov. 10, 2015, the weapon is a self-propelled underwater craft capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 6,200 miles. The vehicle can submerge to a depth of 3,280 feet and travel at speeds of up to 56 knots.
A drawing of the drone submarine shows it will be nuclear powered, controlled by surface ships, and supported by a Sarov submarine.
Russia’s Sarov has been described in Russian press reports as a diesel electric-powered vessel for testing new weapons and technology. It also has been described as an intelligence-gathering submarine.
The Russian document said Russia planned to build a Kanyon prototype by 2019 and begin testing that year. The Nov. 27 test indicates the document may have been a disinformation operation aimed at deceiving the United States about the program.
U.S. intelligence agencies assessed that the 2015 leak was Moscow’s attempt to warn the United States about its displeasure with U.S. missile defenses in Europe and the deployment of missile defense ships to the region.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters one day after the leak that classified information had been accidentally disclosed—an unusual public admission of a security error that has raised concerns about false Russian strategic messaging.
The Russian nuclear arms buildup has coincided with what U.S. officials say are unprecedented public statements by Russian leader Vladimir Putin about nuclear weapons in response to Western opposition to Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
In addition to the nuclear-tipped drone, Russian nuclear modernization includes a new class of ballistic missile submarines, new submarine-launched ballistic missiles, two new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and a new long-range bomber. Russia also is building a new railroad-based missile system.
Schneider, the former Pentagon official who has held a number of positions involving strategic weapons, said reports from Russia indicate the drone sub will be armed with a 100-megaton warhead.
“The Russian government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that to achieve ‘extensive radioactive contamination’ the weapon ‘could envisage using the so-called cobalt bomb, a nuclear weapon designed to produce enhanced amounts of radioactive fallout compared to a regular atomic warhead,’” Schneider said.
“A cobalt bomb is a ‘doomsday’ weapons concept conceived during the Cold War, but apparently never actually developed,” he said.
Testing of the drone, which is said to be powered by a nuclear reactor with limited shielding, poses environmental risks. A guidance failure could result in an undersea nuclear disaster.
“The Obama State Department appears to be asleep at the helm on this issue,” Schneider said, noting the New START arms treaty requires notification of new offensive strategic weapons in a U.S.-Russia commission.
“We could even propose a ban on such weapons,” Schneider said. “There is no indication from the Obama administration that any negotiations are underway, or that the U.S. has even raised the issue with Russia.”
During congressional testimony in December 2015, Rose Gottemoeller, then the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said the Russian nuclear-armed drone is a concern.
“I know we are concerned about it; of course we are concerned about it as a threat to the United States,” said Gottemoeller, now NATO’s deputy secretary general. She noted that the system would pose a great threat if “widely put into operation.”
The Obama administration, however, took no action against Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.
Retired Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, has said development of the underwater nuclear strike vehicle is one element of a “troubling” Russian strategic nuclear buildup.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the House subcommittee on strategic forces, has said that the Russians assert the nuclear drone submarine will be used to target coastal areas and inflict “unacceptable damage to a country’s territory by creating areas of wide radioactive contamination that would be unsuitable for military, economic, or other activity for long periods of time.”
“What does it say about a country that feels that nuclear weapons are such a significant tool of its military and diplomatic strategy that it discloses systems in this manner?” Rogers asked during a House hearing. “And what does this say about a country that would invest resources in such a weapon? This is just nuts.”
“A number of people noted that the description does not necessarily exclude the possibility that the initial ‘damaging’ can be done by a regular nuclear device,” Podvig said. “Which only makes this whole thing even more insane—do they think that a nuclear weapon on its own would not inflict ‘unacceptable damage’?” he said.

Russia Developing Nuclear Submarine Drone For U.S. (Dan 7)

Putin Is Developing an Underwater Drone With Nuclear Weapons That Can Target U.S.

David Poortinga / December 23, 2015

Russia is developing a drone submarine that can deliver a nuclear warhead or dirty bomb (targets electronics) at U.S. coastal areas. Russian officials confirmed the existence of the program – dubbed Kanyon by the Pentagon – after images of a document detailing plans for the sub were broadcast on Russian state-run television.

According to the document, Kanyon is intended to be capable of “damaging the important components of the adversary’s economy in a coastal area and inflicting unacceptable damage to a country’s territory by creating areas of wide radioactive contamination that would be unsuitable for military, economic, or other activity for long periods of time.”

In short, Russia is developing a new, technologically advanced delivery vehicle designed to wreak maximum devastation on American shores.

As Russia expert and former CIA analyst Jack Caravelli explains,
“The Kanyon represents another example of Russia’s aggressive and innovative approach to the development of military capabilities against U.S. and Western interests. The possible yield of the warhead, in the megaton class, clearly is an attempt to inflict catastrophic damage against U.S. or European naval facilities or coastal cities.”

The Kanyon program is just one component of a comprehensive and well-funded Russian nuclear force modernization program that, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, aims to defeat U.S. missile defense systems. Russia is developing several new delivery vehicles across all three legs of the nuclear triad (intercontinental ballistic missiles, sea-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers).

Furthermore, Russia is developing and deploying new warhead designs, including smaller nuclear special-effects weapons for which the United States has no equivalent capabilities. Russia’s new capabilities are expected to become operational before the decade is out.

In contrast, the U.S. nuclear modernization program is quite meager, essentially consisting of one new platform for each leg of the triad, as well as a new nuclear cruise missile. The new systems will not be delivered until the late 2020s (or early 2030s), long after Russia deploys its modernized weapons platforms. Furthermore, unlike Russia, the U.S. is not modernizing its warhead designs.
Russia’s aggressive modernization program makes it incumbent on the United States to reassess its nuclear posture. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the document currently governing U.S. nuclear weapons policy, is premised on the assumption that “Russia and the United States are no longer adversaries, and prospects for military confrontation have declined dramatically.”

This is clearly no longer the case. Russia has challenged U.S. interests in Ukraine and Syria, and top Russian officials, including Putin, now almost routinely make nuclear threats against NATO.
To maintain the credibility of its nuclear deterrent, the U.S. should institute a much more wide-ranging and accelerated nuclear modernization program than what is currently on offer. The U.S. should also invest in its missile defense program in order to keep pace with the threat. Missile defense has suffered under the Obama administration, with several promising programs getting the axe. As such, the U.S. coasts are largely undefended.

The administration should reinvest in advanced missile defense programs and pursue construction of a missile interceptor site on the East Coast for the purposes of homeland defense.

Russia’s actions and words make clear it intends to reassert its strategic position and challenge the United States. The Kanyon program is a sobering example of the types of aggressive capabilities Russia is developing. The U.S. must revitalize its nuclear deterrent and missile defense program in response.

Russian Nuclear Drones (Daniel 7:7)

  
Russia Secretly Building Underwater Nuclear-Armed Drone Submarine

Posted By: Christopher MorrisPosted date: September 19, 2015 11:23:30

As tensions continue to build between Russia and the United States, it has been reported that the former is building a drone submarine to deliver large-scale nuclear weapons. It is suggested by the Pentagon that this vessel will have the capability of striking U.S. harbors and coastal cities, complicating what is already a strained and historically tense relationship between the two superpowers.

Russian nuclear plans

According to reports on the subject, the so-called developmental unmanned underwater vehicle will be armed with megaton-class warheads capable of destroying ports on the US coastline. It is thought that Russia will look to particularly target ports utilized by United States nuclear missile submarines, among them Kings Bay, Georgia and Puget Sound in Washington state.

Details of the plans are rather hard to come by at present, as this is top secret information closely guarded by the United States government. But it is suggested by leaks from close to the United States military establishment that the Pentagon has already codenamed the nuclear drone “Kanyon”; giving indication that the weapon is part of an overarching and structured Russian arms program.

US-Russian relations critical

As the geopolitical situation of the 21st century develops, the relationship between Russia and the United States is clearly central to the zeitgeist. Although tensions between Russia and the United States were supposed to have ended when the Cold War reached its conclusion and the Soviet Union disbanded, recent years have seen the two nations resume their suspicions of one another. Russia has risen from the ashes of the Soviet collapse, and rebuilt itself i

nto a major power, not least owing to the rich mineral resources it has at its disposal.

Although the collapse of oil prices has undoubtedly weakened Russian’s position – and some have suggested that oil was targeted quite deliberately by US investors with this aim in mind – in the longer-term there is no doubt that the vast nation will retain a position of prominence in the world. Russian oil and gas is simply too important to too many nations for the country to be in the doldrums for a significant period of time, with Russian exports particularly vital for the European continent.
So as Russia becomes more prominent in the world, so the United States military infrastructure retains an ever keener interest in monitoring its strategic manoeuvres. And US officials stated that the supposed production of this nuclear drone submarine is further evidence of the aggressive strategic nuclear forces modernization that is taking place under President Vladimir Putin.

Nuclear non-proliferation complicated

This also goes directly against US foreign policy on this matter, as the Obama administration has explicitly sought to reduce the role of nuclear arms in US defences, instead of relying on a smaller nuclear force for deterrents. This is part of an overall nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which has been a defining element of nuclear policy among the world’s great powers in the early years of the 21st century.

The picture with regard to American nuclear defences could also have been influenced this week by events in Britain. The UK is, of course, the United States’ greatest ally, and the political situation in the country has just complicated its relationship with the United States, at least potentially.
With the election to the position of the leader of the Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s major opposition party is now headed by someone who has explicitly derided the existence of the Trident nuclear program in the UK. The UK Trident programme encompasses the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, but Corbyn has stated that this program will be discontinued should he ever elevate to the position of Prime Minister.

Should this eventuality occurr, then the position of the United States with regard to strengthening its nuclear defences in line with Russian plans would be seriously weakened. This may be hypothetical at the moment, but the election of Corbyn in Britain could have a significant effect on US policy over a period of time.

Russian nuclear offensive

In the meantime, the opinion among the United States military establishment is that the Kanyon program should certainly be viewed as an offensive initiative. This is considered by the Pentagon to be an autonomous submarine strike vessel that will ultimately be armed with a nuclear warhead equal to approximately tens of megatons in yield. There is no doubt that such a vehicle would be capable of creating a nuclear weapon blast causing considerable damage over wide areas.

As the geopolitical picture continues to develop in the 21st century, this latest attempt by Russia is clearly intended to give the government a stronger hand in negotiation. It is now absolutely inevitable that Russia and the United States will be on opposite sides in geopolitical disputes for the foreseeable future, and it seems that this nuclear vessel is part of attempts to provide Moscow with the ability to counteract the US.

Obama will now come under increasing pressure to delay and possibly eliminate plans to seek further reductions in both US and Russian nuclear forces, following the signing of the recent New START arms treaty. Once again, the relationship between the United States and Russia has been complicated, and the tawdry and terrifying possibility of nuclear conflict must have increased slightly.

Babylon The Great Expands The Shi’a Horns (Daniel 8)

370679_US-drone
Washington’s Two Air Wars: With Iran In Iraq, With Saudis (Against Iran) In Yemen
By Juan Cole
26 March, 2015
Initially, the US sat out the Tikrit campaign north of the capital of Baghdad because it was a largely Iran-directed operation. Only 3,000 of the troops were regular Iraqi army. Some 30,000 members of the Shiite militias in Iraq joined in– they are better fighters with more esprit de corps than the Iraqi army. Some of them, like the Badr Corps of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, have strong ties to Iran. The special ops unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Jerusalem Brigade, provided tactical and strategic advice, commanded by Qasem Solaimani.
The campaign deployed tanks and artillery against Daesh in Tikrit, but those aren’t all that useful in counter-insurgency, because they cannot do precise targeting and fighting is in back alleys and booby-trapped buildings where infantry and militiamen are vulnerable.
US air intervention on behalf of the Jerusalem Brigades of the IRGC is ironic in the extreme, since the two have been at daggers drawn for decades. Likewise, militias like Muqtada al-Sadr’s “Peace Brigades” (formerly Mahdi Army) and League of the Righteous (Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq) targeted US troops during Washington’s occupation of Iraq. But the fight against the so-called “Islamic State group” or Daesh has made for very strange bedfellows. Another irony is that apparently the US doesn’t mind essentially tactically allying with Iran this way– the reluctance came from the Shiite militias.
Not only US planes but also those of Jordan and some Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Saudi Arabia? the UAE? Qatar?) will join the bombing of Daesh at Tikrit, since these are also afraid of radical, populist political Islam. But why would they agree to be on the same side as Iran? Actually, this air action is an announcement that Iraq needs the US and the GCC, i.e. it is a political defeat for Iranian unilateralism. The US and Saudi Arabia are pleased with their new moxie in Baghdad.
Then in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has begun bombing the positions of the Shiite Houthi movement that has taken over northern and central Yemen and is marching south. One target was an alleged Iranian-supplied missile launcher in Sanaa to which Saudi Arabia felt vulnerable. That isn’t a huge surprise. The Saudis have bombed before, though not in a while. The big surprise is that they have put together an Arab League anti-Houthi coalition, including Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, and the GCC. Even Pakistan has joined in. (Sudan and Pakistan are a surprise, since they had tilted toward Iran or at least had correct relations with it formerly). The US State Department expressed support for this action and pledged US logistical and military support. It remains to be seen if this coalition can intervene effectively. Air power is unlikely to turn the tide against a grassroots movement.
About a third of Yemenis are Zaidi Shiites, a form of Shiism that traditionally was closer to Sunni Islam than the more militant Iranian Twelver or Imami branch of Shiism. But Saudi proselytizing and strong-arming of Zaidis in the past few decades, attempting to convert them to militant Sunnism of the Salafi variety (i.e. close to Wahhabism, the intolerant state church of Saudi Arabia) produced the Houthi reaction, throwing up a form of militant, populist Zaidism that adopted elements of the Iranian ritual calendar and chants “Death to America.” The Saudis alleged that the Houthis are Iranian proxies, but this is not likely true. They are nativist Yemenis reacting against Saudi attempts at inroads. On the other hand, that Iran politically supports the Houthis and may provide them some arms, is likely true.
The Houthis marched into the capital, Sanaa, in September, and conducted a slow-motion coup against the Arab nationalist government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. He came to power in a referendum with 80% support in February, 2012, after dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh had been forced out by Yemen’s youth revolution of 2011-12. Hadi recently fled to the southern city of Aden and tried to reconstitute the nationalist government there, with support from 6 southern governors who, as Sunni Shafi’is, rejected dictatorial Houthi Zaidi rule (no one elected the Zaidis).
But the Houthis, seeking to squelch a challenge from the south, moved south themselves, taking the Sunni city of Taiz and attracting Sunni tribal allies (Yemeni tribes tend to support the victor and sectarian considerations are not always decisive). Then Houthi forces neared Aden and Mansour Hadi is said to have fled. The nationalist government appears to have collapsed.
The other wrinkle is that elements of the old nationalist Yemen military appear to be supporting the Houthis, possibly at the direction of deposed president Ali Abdallah Saleh. So in a way all this is a reaction against the youth revolution of 2011, which aimed at a more democratic nationalist government.
The US support for the Saudi air strikes and the new coalition makes the Yemen war now the second major air campaign supported by the US in the region. But the one in Iraq is in alliance with Iran. The one in Yemen is against a group supported in some measure by Iran. This latter consideration is probably not important to the US. Rather, the US is afraid that Houthi-generated chaos will create a vacuum in which al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will gain a free hand. AQAP has repeatedly targeted the US. The US also maintains that in each instance, it is supporting the legitimate, elected government of the country.
A lot of the online press in Yemen appears to have been knocked offline by the turmoil, by the way.

Iran Uses Babylon’s Technology Against Itself

‘Suicide Drones’ Launched By Iran, US Warship Scrambled Off Says Navy Chiefs

By Athena Yenko | December 29, 2014 4:51 PM EST
iran-copy-us-drone
The locally made suicide drone was designed to hit potential enemies on land, air and sea by dropping explosives, Iran’s Brig Gen Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said. The military drill is being participated by 13,000 Iranian military men and is the first drill conducted offshore attended by the Iranian navy. The drill also involves test fires of the country’s ballistic missiles and cyber warfare technology.

“Mohammed The Delegate of G-d” military war game is said to be an unspoken message addressed to the Houthis in Yemen. The group had been capturing towns in Yemen. Through the drill, Iran wanted to assure the group that the country is committed in helping it establish strategic positions in the region, Arutz Sheva reported.

On Dec 28, an spy plane identified to be of the United States had scrambled away from the military drill zone after stern warning from Iran’s Airborne Division of Iran’s Navy. There were also sightings prompting warnings against international warships patrolling the zone, Navy Chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said as reported by the Tehran Times.

Sayyari said that these military vessels from other countries flew the area even if it was marked for lunching missiles and torpedoes for the drills and prior warnings days before the drill started. The zone had been planted with mines to prevent “mock enemy” from entering Iran’s coastal areas. He warned that military planes and ships who exhibit hostility by refusing to leave the zone after repeated warnings should deal with “any consequences” that may arise with the situation.

Iran had been improving its navy, missile systems, drones and cyber warfare technology in past years amidst its supreme leader openly calling for the Israel to be annihilated. It had also warned of closing the Strait of Hormuz any moment that forces from Western countries hit its nuclear facilities.

a.yenko@IBTimes.com.au

Iran Gains US Drone Technology

Iran: Sweet Day for Khamenei as Tehran ‘Successfully Tests’ Captured US Drone Replica

The Iranian military have claimed they have successfully tested a copy of a US drone captured in 2011, to the joy of Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“As we promised earlier this year, a test flight of the Iranian version of the RQ-170 was carried out and a video will be released soon,” Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the aerospace division of the elite Revolutionary Guard, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
The announcement was welcomed by Khamenei. “Today is a very sweet and unforgettable day for me,” he said, according to Tasnim News Agency.
Iran said they captured the drone after it entered the country’s airspace from Afghanistan, possibly to monitor military and nuclear facilities in 2011.
Washington later confirmed they had lost an aircraft but US officials claimed that Iranians would have struggled to decipher the drone’s secrets as they lacked the necessary technology.
The development came as US President Barack Obama expressed scepticism over a possible breakthrough in multilateral, high-level nuclear talks with Iran less than two weeks before a self-imposed deadline to make an historic permanent agreement.
“Are we going to be able to close this final gap so that [Iran] can re-enter the international community, sanctions can be slowly reduced and we have verifiable, lock-tight assurances that they can’t develop a nuclear weapon?” Obama asked, after US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Gulf sultanate of Oman, in the final stretch of negotiations.
“There’s still a big gap. We may not be able to get there,” Obama said.

New Iranian Drone Courtesy Of The US

A ‘nightmare becoming reality’? Iran unveils American drone replica.

The New Iranian-US Drone

The New Iranian-US Drone

Iran captured a US stealth surveillance drone in 2011, and started working to reverse engineer its own. Yesterday it unveiled what it claims is a replica, plus bombing capabilities.

By Staff writer / May 12, 2014

Iran has unveiled its own copy of an American stealth drone it captured in late 2011, claiming to have cracked the “secrets” of the bat-wing craft and added weapons capabilities.

Today, Fars News Agency reported that while Iran’s duplicate of the US RQ-170 Sentinel drone was smaller, it also had a “bombing capability to attack the US warships in any possible battle.” The story in Persian was headlined: “America’s nightmare has become reality.”  State television showed footage on Sunday it said was of a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf filmed by an Iranian drone.
The drone replica was unveiled at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) exhibition on Sunday, where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was briefed on how the drone, its systems, and structure had been reverse-engineered. He called it a “sweet day.”

The stealth replica would “soon take a test flight,” an IRGC officer said on Sunday. Aerospace chief Amir Ali Hajizadeh said today that they are working on two more models of the replica drone.

Proving its prowess

Engineers with the IRGC  were ordered to reverse engineer the captured US drone, which was on a CIA mission to spy on nuclear and military sites in Iran when it was brought down in Iran largely intact. Iran reacted with euphoria, trumpeting the capture in an “electronic ambush” showed Iran’s technical prowess.

“And thus the Iranian-RQ [project] was designated,” said an IRGC aerospace officer, according to Fars News. “To achieve this, considering the difficulties and flight dynamics, we designed a bird with a smaller size that would be cheaper and simpler, and that we have done now. We have done ground tests already, and after this fair, we will do air tests too.”

“Here we didn’t know what type of information we were looking for. There was an issue of encoding and passwords, which thanks to God’s help we have overcome,” said the officer. He said data included video and advanced imaging and was “completely recovered.”

US officials said Iran was incapable of replicating the drone’s sophisticated radar-evading skin and shape, its aerodynamics, and top-of-the-line surveillance equipment, though it might be able to do so with the help of Russia or China. Iran has often made claims of cutting-edge military advances that later did not prove accurate, and it is not clear today what capabilities the replica has.

Khamenei said the lesson of the exhibition – which included unveiling a new cruise missile called “Ya Ali” with a 700 km range, among other new military hardware – was to show that Iranian engineers are capable.

“[It] gives the message of our internal power and capabilities … and declares that: ‘We can’,” said Khamenei.

Different stories

An Iranian engineer tasked with decoding the drone’s memory told The Christian Science Monitor in December 2011 that Iran had incrementally “spoofed” the drone’s GPS system, causing it to land in Iran instead of its home base in western Afghanistan. Just months before, the US military had approved two $47 million contracts to find ways to replace vulnerable military GPS systems.

The US government and intelligence community claim that the RQ-170 drone was not electronically “hijacked” by Iran, and say it crash-landed instead. The stealth drone’s existence was never officially acknowledged until Iran exhibited it on television, largely intact.

Iranian engineers had decoded two hard drives and determined that the US drone had made 13 missions over Pakistan and Afghanistan. They did not mention any visual or other data that might have pertained to Iran. Iran has previously made public video footage it said was taken from the drone’s memory, of a landing at Kandahar airport in Afghanistan.

Official images released Sunday showed the undercarriage of the American drone for the first time, with little apparent damage to the housing of the sensors and camera section, or the landing gear. When the drone was first shown on television 2-1/2 years ago, those elements were hidden by anti-American banners and camouflage material.