Iran Cracks RQ-170 Stealth Drone Code.

Yee haw!  Save your money boys and girls.  Looks like Iran may be going into the flight controller business soon.  Once commercialized, the RQ-170 based flight controller should outperform DJI, and Arducopter.  Maybe even give Mikrokopter a run for its money.

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Comment by Jan Detlefsen on April 22, 2012 at 7:55pm

If Iran was smart and they wanna get the maximum damage to their "enemy" they would just release everything they find to the public. That would be fun.

Comment by Jan Detlefsen on April 22, 2012 at 8:01pm
Comment by Ellison Chan on April 22, 2012 at 8:06pm

Nah, if they really had anything, they'd milk all they can out of China and Russia, while taking advantage of the propaganda advantage against the US.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on April 22, 2012 at 10:24pm

The real scandal unrolling here is just how low tech the militarys hi tech UAS was. If its a real one of course.

Comment by Wouter van Verre on April 23, 2012 at 3:08am
Comment by Chad Frazer on April 23, 2012 at 3:32am

The link Jan Detlesfsen gave about the Iran article on the drone was most enlightening.  In the end though, no other stealth aircraft has that color of paint on it and it is truly the coating on the aircraft's skin that gives the majority of stealth technology its punch.  I do believe they were able to recover data from it, but a maintenance log is not going to help them copy it.  Damn, so much to say about reverse engineering something like that.  I'll skip to what I think is the end result.  So What. 

Even if they are able to copy its outside dimensions and understand what each component does and even if they are able to use Russia and China to help them manufacture parts they are still missing two vital components.  First is trained personnel.  You can't get a simple plane off the ground without have a crew that knows whats what with the aircraft.  Second is the software.  I think we all know what happens when you misplace a decimal in a line of code around here.  I can't imagine how complicated the coding is for not only the flight controls but for the operation and coordination of all of the aircraft's subsystems.

In the end, reverse engineering this will help them, no doubt, but will they be flying one over Washington a year from now toting along a nuclear bomb in it?  Nope.  It is going to take a minimum of another year just to piece together a crappy "copy" and another 10 years to reconstruct or make their own software package to make it fly. 

The deconstruction of the sensors is of more value to Russia, China and Iran than the actual copying of the airframe.  It can tell them all kinds of things like altitude limits and what the sensors can "see" and thus how to hide from it.

Overall, I'm with Jan on his comment about them releasing everything they find to the general public.  That truly would be something to behold.  Perhaps it would be something akin to the wikileaks scandal.

I love how complicated this world can be, it's beauty in all of realities glory.

Comment by John Rambo on April 23, 2012 at 10:49am

one thing is to capture drone with a fake GPS signal, another is to disassemble military-encrypted code. Once they'll get that thing into the air, I'll have my thumb up (for Russians of course - they helped then, they might help now)

Comment by Chad Frazer on April 23, 2012 at 12:38pm

I've been thinking about what you said John, about capturing a drone with a fake GPS signal, I don't think it can be done.  Can you expand on that?

Comment by Wouter van Verre on April 23, 2012 at 12:42pm

Chad, there has been a discussion about capturing the drone using fake GPS on DIYDrones before. You can find the original blog post here: If I remember correctly, the most common theory was, that the Iranians used fake GPS signals to make the plane believe that it was flying over its base, instead of over Iran, which would have caused it to land. 

Comment by Andrew Rabbitt on April 23, 2012 at 10:54pm

The algorithms have been on the web all along.  All the Iranians had to do was to navigate their browsers here


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