It is increasingly looking like the Iranians took down the RQ-170 drone using electronic warfare techniques, rather than an accidental crash:
Iran guided the CIA’s “lost” stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone’s systems inside Iran.
Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently trying to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could not be named for his safety.
Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone’s GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.
Rather unsurprisingly, the GPS exploit has been known for nearly two decades, which reminds me about how the Serbs took down an F-117 in the ’90s: it was sent on identical routes, at the same time every night, which is like painting a target on your back.
This is what happens when you think that technological whiz bang means that you can be stupid with impunity.
Unfortunately, this means that smart people with more limited resources sometimes kick your ass.
Apparently, the reason that it crashed, and did damage to the underside of the the drone, (hence the shroud on the bottom) was because there was a slight difference in elevation between the Iranian airfield and the home airbase, and it was either too high or too low.
My only question now is what they are asking the Chinese to give them for a peek at their prize.