US knows what brought RQ-170 down over Iran
Written by Reuters, Monday, 16 January 2012
Schwartz, in an interview with Reuters last week, said the drones are providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data to military commanders.
U.S. officials reject Iran's claim that it brought down the stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel built by Lockheed Martin Corp, but remain tight-lipped about what caused the crash.
U.S. officials told Reuters last month that they were investigating a combination of pilot error and technical malfunction as possible causes.
Schwartz declined comment on the outcome of the investigation, but said the Air Force now understood what caused the crash and was continuing to use the rest of the service's RQ-170 spy planes to provide data.
"The key thing is that it's an ISR system that we use to provide capabilities to the combatant commanders and we'll continue to do so," Schwartz said in an interview.
He also said the crash had not raised concerns about work on the classified spy plane by Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier.
The Air Force operates "more than a handful" of the unmanned spy planes, and continues to fly them out of Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to one senior defense official and a former senior official, neither of whom could speak publicly given the sensitive nature of the program.
The plane lost in Iran was on a mission for the CIA, but the Air Force also uses the planes for other surveillance missions over Afghanistan, the officials said.
The radar-evading aircraft measures over 40 feet from wing tip to wing tip, and carries a full-motion video sensor that was used last year by U.S. intelligence to monitor al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan ahead of the raid that killed him. It features special coatings that make it nearly invisible to enemy radar.
Lockheed has declined comment on the Iran incident or what might have gone wrong with the plane, which came out of the company's secretive Skunk Works facility in southern California.
Company officials have referred all questions about the incident to the Air Force, which first acknowledged the existence of the drone in December 2009.
Iran announced on December 4 it had downed the spy plane in the eastern part of the country, near Afghanistan. It subsequently showed an image of the apparently intact plane on television and said it was close to cracking its technological secrets.
The loss of the plane sparked some concerns that sophisticated technology could fall into the hands of China or other countries that are actively developing their own unmanned planes. The main concern about technology Iran could pilfer from the drone centers on the special coatings on the craft's surface.
The computers onboard the drone are believed to have been heavily encrypted and its sensors were not the most sophisticated tools in the U.S. arsenal.
Top stories this week
- Iran provided weapons to Iraqi Kurds; Baghdad bomb kills 12
- Insight - Iran's elite Guards fighting in Iraq to push back Islamic State
- Sudan says it declined Iran air defence offer after attack
- Iraqi leaders give conflicting answers on reported Iran arms deal
- Iraq allegedly signs deal to buy arms, ammunition from Iran
- Lockheed sees huge potential for military, commercial drones
- World powers, Iran to activate landmark nuclear deal after IAEA nod
- White House releases summary of six-month Iran nuclear plan
- Iran nuclear deal to take effect on January 20
- Iran, six world powers resume expert talks on nuclear deal
Dual safety: new generation of mortar fuses
by Atlantis Corporation, 1 September 2014
The wind wheel fuses DM183 and DM111S are available from Atlantis Manufacturing Management Services, the official Junghans South African representative.
Here's how chairman of Africa's largest private defence company sees the continent's future
by Paramount Group, 1 September 2014
Africa is no longer a charity case and can solve more problems on its own, says Ivor Ichikowitz, executive chairman of Paramount.
US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) signs five-year framework contract for Carl-Gustaf weapon system
by Saab, 1 September 2014
Saab signed a new framework contract with the US Special Operations Command for the company's Carl-Gustaf man-portable weapon system.
Saab Grintek Defence partners with Specialist Maritime Services
by Atlantis Corporation, 28 August 2014
New MD 530G Scout Attack Helicopter
by Safomar Aviation, 27 August 2014
MD Helicopters successfully completed the Live Fire Qualification Exercises for its new MD 530G Scout Attack Helicopter.
Kelvin Hughes to co-exhibit with ECM Technologies at AAD 2014
by ECM Technologies, 26 August 2014
The international company will join its exclusive land-based security systems representative in SA, at Africa, Aerospace and Defence 2014.