Wednesday, December 14, 2011

14 December 2011 There are drones and there are drones.

Ahmadinejad: Iran has 'been able to control' U.S. drone
December 13, 2011|By the CNN Wire Staff
Ahmadinejad: Iran can control U.S. drone
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that his country has "been able to control" the U.S. drone that Iran claims it recently brought down, Venezuelan state TV reported.
Can the world live with a near-nuclear Iran?
By Mohammed Ayoob, Special to CNN
updated 12:44 PM EST, Wed December 14, 2011

Editor's note: Mohammed Ayoob is University Distinguished Professor of International Relations at Michigan State University and Adjunct Scholar at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
(CNN) -- Some analysts have attributed the recent downing of a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone in Iran to that nation's increasingly sophisticated capability to launch cyber attacks. Others have dismissed the idea that Iran was capable of bringing down an RQ-170, arguing that Iranian air defenses do not have the capability to track an aircraft with radar-evading technology.
Either way, the incident clearly demonstrates American concerns regarding Iran's nuclear capacity, as the drone was likely sent over Iranian territory to spy on its nuclear program.
I find the argument that Iran is engaged in developing a nuclear weapons program credible. I am also convinced that Iran will not test a device, but rather will acquire the capability to produce a weapon quickly if its strategic environment deteriorates to such an extent that it feels it must.

Captured Drone May Have Limited Benefit For Iran

Iranian officials have crowed they are mining "priceless technological information" from a CIA spy drone that went down days ago inside Iran's borders, broadcasting triumphant images of what they said was the craft on state TV.
But many experts say the loss of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone — like the U-2 spy plane shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 — may have more value as propaganda than as a treasure trove of technological secrets.
"Even if the Iranians have possession of a drone, that doesn't mean they will be able to exploit its technology," says Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based military and security think tank.
Iran says its technicians will use "reverse engineering" to produce an Iranian version, and that Russia and China are both vying to inspect the so-called unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. The U.S. says the drone went down because of a malfunction and has urged Iran to return it, which Iran has refused to do.
Thompson says countries such as Russia and China already have a fair understanding of the basic principles of stealth technology: the use of radar-absorbing materials and of computers to fly the inherently unstable craft. It's learning how to track stealth aircraft that remains the hardest part of the equation, he says.
"It's not clear that they or any other adversaries we might face in the future will be materially advantaged in terms of being able to counter the stealth," Thompson says. "It's just intrinsically hard to track using radar."
The Sentinel also might not necessarily represent the most cutting-edge technology because such systems can take years from inception until they are operationally viable, says Thomas Donnelly, director of the Center for Defense Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
In addition, defense planners likely took into account that the Sentinel would be operating in hostile territory and might fall into enemy hands, Donnelly says.
He says that's the same reason why U.S. military planners are careful about using more sophisticated military hardware, such as the F-22 Raptor, which also has stealth capabilities, for combat patrols over Afghanistan.
"It's a capability that is excessive for the mission," Donnelly says. "You save the crown jewels for when you really need them. The RQ-170 probably falls someplace in the middle of our technological capabilities."
When an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter was shot down over Serbia in 1999, it was feared to be an "unmitigated disaster," says Jonathan Reed Winkler, a professor at Wright State University who specializes in foreign relations and military history.
But Winkler points out that the U.S. military had already been flying the craft for nearly two decades.
"These particular military technologies are not the most cutting edge. They are simply the ones that are operationally useful, and so are out in the field," he says.
Even so, suspicion persists that Beijing either temporarily acquired or at least got to study the F-117 wreckage and then used the information to help build a prototype stealth fighter, the Chengdu J-20. More recently, pieces of a U.S. stealth helicopter used in the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden were left behind in Pakistan despite attempts to blow up the wreckage. China has denied reports that Pakistan allowed it to examine the wreckage
Cassi Creek:
          We’ve all become familiar with the RQ-170 UAV.  The old nomenclature for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was “drone.”  They were remotely controlled obsolescent air frames used for target practice by the men and women who fly the manned aerial vehicles.  They were big fat targets, essentially boring to fly remotely.  Now our UAVs are armed with more than flashing lights.  They are used for combat missions in high-risk areas.  They can and do strike fear and terror into the enemy camps.  But their long-dwell times and the resultant long missions can still render them boring in use on real-time missions.  Drones can be boring. 
          Enter the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Long a practitioner of bombast and braggadocio, he seems to believe that his boasts and brags somehow become truth when he utters them.  While he may think that his political capabilities will somehow rebuild the ancient Persian empire with Teheran as the Caliphate’s seat of power, the truth is that he is a small man in way over his head and slaved to the religious dictators that control life in Iran.  Ahmadinejad is the mouthpiece for the mullahs and the religious shock troops of the “Islamic Republic.”  They trot him out to make endless boring, speeches that numb the minds of those unable to walk away from the drone of his voice.  And it seems appropriate to update yet another function of the word, “drone” at this point.  “Drone – male bee used only for breeding purposes and then discarded as useless.”  The President of Iran is slated for discard by the mullahs who run the hive mentality central government of Iran.  He has no power beyond the power to drone endlessly and bore terminally. 
          The state of relations between the U.S. and Iran is at best akin to the behavior of adolescent males in a locker room, posturing and showing off to establish a following of the less powerful.  Iran brags about “capturing and bringing down the RQ-170 they have on display.  In doing so it hopes to shift the balance of power in the Middle East and in South Asia.  The mullahs want the Saudi holy cities under their control.   They want their search for nuclear weapons to be supported by their neighbors and by more remote Islamic nations.  They want to be feared, as was the ancient Persian empire. 
          Iran is going to achieve nuclear weapons control.   It will engineer and construct or it will buy them quietly from other nuclear states with greedy men in control of fission warheads.  They most likely will manage to deliver one or more of their warheads onto U.S. soil and detonate it in such a manner that the trail will lead away from Iran.  There are sufficient anti-American terrorists still active that finding a pool of martyrs will be easy.  If they succeed in detonating two or more nuclear devices against the U.S., then most likely the mullahs will be sufficiently emboldened to implant a device in Tel Aviv.  The world will do nothing beyond commiseration and condemnation of attack Iran will admit carrying out. 
          The likelihood of that scenario is higher than I care to calculate.  We spent the better part of a decade in Iraq, initially hunting non-existent nuclear weapons while failing to block Iran’s acquisition of warheads.  We spent years trying to construct an Arab army in Iraq while Iraqis blatantly used Iranian-manufactured weaponry against our troops.   We’re doing much the same in Afghanistan while Pakistan cooperates with Iran’s hunt for nukes and attacks our troops. 
          The war-mongering, oil-grubbing Bush-Cheney theocrats did next to nothing about Iranian nuclear development when it was possible.  Now, the Obama crew worries about offending everyone and does little to end the growing threat. 
          Still, there is some petty action that even the Obama people can undertake.  If Iran actually downed the RQ-170, then it should be able to power it up and fly it around Iranian airspace.  If they won’t and don’t, they can’t.  They can be caught in a major lie and exposed on the public stage in such a manner that it will decrease their status compared to the Saudis.  All it takes is a schoolyard boast and challenge issued loudly and publically. 
          Let’s see that drone fly, boys, or admit that you didn’t bring it down.  And I’d be very careful plugging into any com or data port.  Stuxnet sound familiar?
Drone on!

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