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The Impact of Iran's Capture of the US RQ-170 Stealth Drone
Well, Iran finally has displayed the nearly intact US RQ-170 Stealth Drone to the world, proving not only do they have it and its top secrets, but also they managed through electronic warfare managed to take control and land it safely with minimal damage.
Both the US and Israel are dumbfounded, speechless.
This creates many issues about Iran's capabilities. Iran is clearly a smart IT adversary dressed in the radical Islamic garb. They spend millions of sophisticated Russian and Chinese technology both military and civilian. Their engineers, many trained in the West, are very well paid to reverse engineer and decode this technology for their own use and slap a Persian name on it. There is no question the capture of the RQ-170 is a debacle for the US. It uses the same stealth coatings to deflect and make invisible to radar the aircraft's presence. There is no question that soon the Russians and Chinese will have their techies taking it apart and learning the secrets to mimic. Not good. Iranian officials said the drone was detected near the Iranian town of Kashmar, 200 kilometers from the Afghan border. How did they know? How were they able to land it? Why was its self-destruct capability not activated when the US found it missing? Serious stuff that need answers.
Obviously, the US has underestimated Iran's capabilities. The incident shows that the technology they get from US rivals is as good as ours or, Iran has been able to add to them. The example shows maybe Iran's nuclear desire is maybe more dangerous than we thought and more closer to it happening. The incident also creates a deep divide between the US and Israel about an attack on Iran's nuke sites.The US is taking the time costly route of sanctions and using covert actions. Israel is taking the "time is of the essence" view. Now, the capture of the RQ-170 poses a dilemma for such an attack. Does Israel attack sooner than they wanted because of the data inside the drone, which reveals targets. Or, should it be called off, as Iran will know the targets and more, making such an attack even more risky and maybe futile?
Soon, Iran will know about the stealth coating, its sensors and cameras, but also the data stored in its computer about which targets are marked out by the US and/or Israeli for attack. The RQ-170 had a self-destruct mechanism to prevent its secrets spilling out to the enemy in the event of a crash or capture. This did not happen. Obama decided not to go ahead with a commando operation to destroy the drone fearing it would spark a war. Well, it is coming, sooner than later, but at least Iran would not have the data and secrets.
It is more likely than not, Israel will do what they think is necessary. They will strike fast and secretly. That has always been their MO. It is why they were the victors in all of the Arab-Israeli wars. This time, they may act alone. Now the pressure to act is even more acute.