Iran shows video footage of captured CIA surveillance drone

Iran

Iran

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Iranian state television has aired pre-recorded footage of a surveillance drone that looks similar to the stealth RQ-170 Sentinel, which the US Central Intelligence Agency admitted it was missing earlier this week. Images of the unmanned surveillance drone, built by US military contractor Lockheed Martin, were broadcast during the main news bulletin on Thursday evening. The captured aircraft was shown in near-immaculate condition, resting on a display platform, with two men in Iranian military fatigues inspecting it. One of them was identified in the news report as Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Brigadier General of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Aerospace Forces. He told the news reporters that the drone was brought down last week “in an electronic ambush” conducted jointly by the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian armed forces. He did not specify what he meant by “electronic ambush”, nor the exact location where the drone was physically captured by Iranian authorities. However, one report in the Iranian press alleged that the aircraft was initially detected by Iranian forces while flying over the town of Kashmar, in east Iran, located nearly 250 kilometers (about 150 miles) from the Afghan-Iranian border. If this report is accurate, it would signify that the CIA drone was flying deep within Iranian airspace, thus disputing initial claims to the contrary by the US Department of Defense. Another Iranian news outlet quoted anonymous military sources in Tehran, which said that the Chinese and Russian governments had already requested from the Iranian authorities permission to view the captured aircraft. Another pro-government newspaper said that Tehran was considering sharing the intelligence gathered from the captured drone with its regional allies in the Syrian government and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. Read more of this post

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US use of stealth spy drones in Afghanistan raises questions

RQ-170 Sentinel

RQ-170 Sentinel

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
On December 6, we posted a link to a photo of what appeared to be a classified US drone aircraft, which was published on a blog belonging to French newspaper Libération. Then, unexpectedly, on December 8, the US Air Force admitted that the mystery aircraft, dubbed ‘the Beast of Kandahar’ by aviation spotters, is the RQ-170 Sentinel, an unmanned, unarmed surveillance and reconnaissance drone with stealth capabilities, that is officially still in production by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin. That’s all well and fine. But the question is: why would the US be using a stealth drone against the Taliban in Afghanistan, who have no known antiaircraft radar systems, and are therefore unable to track enemy surveillance planes? Read more of this post

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Obama administration approves new spy satellite program

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Very few media outlets picked up last week news of an oral approval by Obama administration officials of a new spy satellite program that will further blur the line between private and US Pentagon satellite imagery provision. The new plan, provisionally called “2-plus-2”, is said to replace the fiasco of Boeing Corporation’s delayed and hugely over-budget Future Imagery Architecture reconnaissance project, which the DoD terminated in 2005. The DoD now appears poised to punish Boeing by awarding 2-plus-2 “to Lockheed without a competitive bidding process”, later this year. Under the new plan, whose initial budget Pentagon officials have refused to reveal, includes building from scratch two state-of-the-art satellites for Pentagon use. It also stipulates increased collaboration between the Pentagon and private satellite imagery providers, such as DigitalGlobe and GeoEye, who currently pocket approximately $25 million a month from the Pentagon. Notably, the new contract has a “guaranteed access” stipulation, which gives the Pentagon “top priority and the ability to direct the satellites if there is a war or another emergency”. The contract is subject to Congressional approval, but intelligence officials have said they are “confident it will pass”.