Iran says Hacked Fallen US Drone
In recent months, one news story seems to be taking up all of the headlines: the story of a US Unmanned Ariel Vehicle that crashed while it was flying over Iranian airspace. As of yet, the United States government has yet to make a comment regarding why the plane was in Iranian airspace, and the Iranians in turn have not allowed the United States to have the drone back. Further developments of this story keep hitting the newsstands. Now, the Iranian government is claiming that their scientists were able to hack in to the drone plane and steal some very important information off of its data files. As a response to these claims, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has shown nothing but disbelief, saying he does not believe that the Iranians were able to steal any information, nor were they able to make a clone of the plane as they say they were able to do.
“I don’t want to get into the particulars of that program,” said Panetta during an in flight interview with a group of reporters on their way to Bogota, Colombia Monday, “but I think I can tell you based on my experience that I would seriously question their ability to do what they say they have done.”
The only thing that is known about the U.S. stealth drone, an RQ-170 Sentinel, is that it was on a mission for the CIA when it crash landed and fell into the hands of the Iranian military. At this time, it is not believed that the plane was shot down in any way. Iranian authorities subsequently displayed the fallen drone on television and claimed that they were able to bring it down themselves. The U.S. rebuffed this claim, however, by saying that the plane was over Western Afghanistan when it went down, and therefore could not have been brought down by any tactics used by the Iranians.
On Sunday, Iranian officials claimed publicly that they had begun building a copy of the Sentinel, had broken its internal codes and extracted detailed data.
“The Americans should be aware to what extent we have infiltrated the plane,” said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. “Our experts have full understanding of its components and programs.”
Hajizadeh claimed that the accessed data showed the drone had flown over Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in April 2011, two weeks before the al Qaeda leader’s death in a U.S. raid, and that it had been sent back to California twice in 2010 for repairs.
“Had we not accessed the plane’s software and hard discs, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve these facts,” Hajizadeh said.
After the Iranian claims were made public Sunday, a U.S. official told ABC News that reverse engineering the drone would be a difficult feat, one even China would have a difficult time achieving.
According to Iran’s Fars News Agency, many countries have asked for technical information about the Sentinel, “but Moscow and Beijing have been most aggressive in their pursuit of details.”
The U.S. has asked for the drone to be returned, but Iran has refused.