Iran's Fars News Agency is claiming that Iran brought down America's top-secret stealth spy drone through the use of a "cyberattack" by Iran's military forces.
Is this Iranian propaganda, or could there be some truth to the claim?
The United States has not officially commented on what happened, but there are some indications that Iran might indeed have used a cyberattack to bring down the drone. First, the pictures of the drone released from Iran show it to be remarkably intact...almost as if it had landed rather than crashed. Second, a report surfaced two months ago that the U.S. was struggling to control a computer virus that was infecting our Predator and Reaper drone fleet. The report only focused on these two specific drones...but one wouldn't expect it to identify other infected drones that are supposedly still top secret!
So could the Iranians have infected our drones with a virus that allowed them to intercept and override our control of this aircraft? It's certainly possible, and it raises two serious questions about the vulnerability of our entire fleet of drones. First, if Iran has the ability to hijack the RQ170, could they also intercept other drones, perhaps hijacking an armed predator and using it to attack our forces in the field? And second, what is the true level of electronic sophistication possessed by Iran? Do they really have the ability to infect and then control some of our most sensitive military hardware? And if they have that ability, who else might possess it?
To me, the larger story isn't the capture of the drone, as serious as that might be. It's determining how Iran was able to accomplish it...and making sure they can't do it again!