Does Iran have access to satellite jamming technology?
December 20, 2011 5 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A European intelligence official has said that Iran downed an unmanned American surveillance aircraft earlier this month by remotely sabotaging its satellite navigation system. The official, who has not been named, told The Christian Science Monitor that the Iranians used a state-of-the-art laser system to effectively “blind” the American spy satellite that guided the drone’s global positioning system (GPS). In doing this, Iran’s military was able to remotely skyjack the aircraft and assume control over its navigational system. The paper also published an exclusive interview with an Iranian electronic warfare specialist, who claimed he was part of a team that hacked into the drone’s communication frequency and reprogrammed its GPS data. Eventually, the Iranian specialists managed to cause the unmanned aircraft to switch into autopilot mode, and guided it to land relatively smoothly on Iranian territory, where it was eventually captured intact by Iranian authorities. If this is true, it will mark the first-ever indication that the Iranian state is in possession of sophisticated satellite jamming technology. In an important development, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Akbar Salehi, told Iran’s government-run IRNA news agency on Saturday that the American drone was brought down by Iranian armed forces, without any foreign assistance. If this is so, then does it mean that the Iranians developed the state-of-the-art jamming system themselves? This would be highly unlikely, according to John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton told Fox News last weekend that there are rumors the Russians may have recently sold Iran “a very sophisticated jamming system”, which may have been put to use against US spy drones in recent months. If the rumors are accurate, said Bolton, “it means a lot else is at risk too”, and urged Western countries engaging in technical surveillance against Iran to take all necessary precautions. It should be stressed that the US government admits that the RQ-170 Sentinel, built by Northrop Grumman, was indeed captured by Iran. But it claims that the drone crash-landed in the Iranian desert after a technical malfunction, and that it was found by the Iranians in pieces. Washington alleges that Iranian authorities then reassembled and painted the aircraft so as to make it appear undamaged. At least one American military source has claimed that the US drone shown on Iranian television is fake.