News you may have missed #719

Benny GantzBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Iran says it has cracked US spy drone secrets. Iran claims it has cracked the encryption on the computer software onboard a US RQ-170 Sentinel drone which crashed in the country in December. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, said engineers were decoding the last pieces of data from the spy plane, which came down near the Afghan border. An Iranian defense official recently said that Tehran has had several requests for information on the craft and that China and Russia have shown an interest.
►►Israel steps up covert operations says defense chief. Israel’s defense chief, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, has confirmed his forces are carrying out increased special operations beyond the country’s borders. In an interview published on Wednesday to mark the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, Gantz said Israel was ready to attack Iran’s nuclear sites if ordered to do so. But he added that did not mean he was about to order the air force to strike. He also said that he had increased the number of covert Israeli operations in other countries, but gave no details. “I do not think you will find a point in time where there is not something happening, somewhere in the world”, he said.
►►US Pentagon plans new intelligence-gathering service. The US Pentagon is revamping its spy operations to focus on high-priority targets like Iran and China in a reorganization that reflects a shift away from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan that have dominated America’s security landscape for the past decade. Under the plan approved last week by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, case officers from the new Defense Clandestine Service would work more closely with counterparts from the Central Intelligence Agency at a time when the military and spy agency are increasingly focused on similar threats.

Advertisements

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

US considered covert mission to recover drone captured by Iran

Iran

Iran

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
What a difference two days can make! On Monday we speculated that Iran may have captured intact a United States Air Force RQ-170 Sentinel surveillance drone. At that time, most American officials questioned or flatly denied Iran’s capture claims. It now appears almost certain that Iran is indeed in possession of the aircraft; what is more, it seems increasingly likely that the captured drone was conducting a Central Intelligence Agency reconnaissance mission when it crashed in the desert along the country’s 1,000 km-long border with Afghanistan. The significance of the drone’s capture by Iranian authorities can be discerned from the fact that US officials are said to have considered last weekend several options for retrieving it from Iranian territory. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the US Department of Defense, in association with the CIA, discussed at least three separate plans for recovering or destroying the aircraft wreckage. One of the options discussed involved sending an airborne team of US covert operatives into northeast Iran to locate the crashed drone, disassemble it, and carry its top-secret mechanical and electronic components back to a US base in Afghanistan. The US also considered deploying Special Forces stationed in Afghanistan, or tasking US intelligence assets inside Iran, with locating and blowing up the crashed drone. A third option involved destroying the downed aircraft with a remote airstrike from Afghanistan. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #642

Predator drone

Predator drone

►►Australia concerned China using civilian satellites to spy. Concerns that China may use civilian satellite tracking stations to monitor Australian military operations have been dismissed by the Swedish Space Corporation. The company owns and operates two satellite tracking stations 400 km north of the West Australian capital, Perth. One was used by the China Satellite Launch Company last month in China’s first space docking operation.
►►Did Iran capture US stealth drone intact? For the second time this year, the Iranian government is claiming it forced down a stealthy US Air Force spy drone. Only this time, it says it bagged the RQ-170 “with little damage” by jamming its control signal —a potentially worrying development for American forces heavily reliant on remote-controlled aircraft. A US official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that “there is absolutely no indication up to this point that Iranians shot down this drone”.
►►Canadian Mounties spied on native protest groups. Canada’s federal government created a vast surveillance network in early 2007 to monitor protests by First Nations, including those that would attract national attention or target “critical infrastructure” like highways, railways and pipelines, according to RCMP documents. The RCMP intelligence unit reported weekly to approximately 450 recipients in law enforcement, government, and unnamed “industry partners” in the energy and private sector. The news follows revelations last month of the RCMP’s largest-ever domestic intelligence operation, aimed against G8 and G20 protesters.

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