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rq-170 video decoded and shown off by iran

This is a discussion on rq-170 video decoded and shown off by iran within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Originally Posted by GermanHerman In addition I hope this thread would not get derailed any further because of the F313 ...


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Old February 8th, 2013   #16
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In addition I hope this thread would not get derailed any further because of the F313 reference since OP clearly stated it was intended to be a joke (now I'm looking in your direction swerve):
A joke icon would have been appropriate.. i the absence of such I would take any post at face value.
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Old February 8th, 2013   #17
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Sorry did I miss something ? The video proves what now ? Are people seriously getting sucked into this ? I still do not believe they actually got it in the first place, and now this somehow proves they are hacking into it secrets ?
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Old February 8th, 2013   #18
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What I find interesting and I have seen alot of raw ISR imagery, is the lack of symbology in any of the "onboard" video. Put me in the skeptic column.
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Old February 8th, 2013   #19
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What I find interesting and I have seen alot of raw ISR imagery, is the lack of symbology in any of the "onboard" video. Put me in the skeptic column.
The only part of the video which contains some "symbology" data is the last frame 1.33 seconds (in the attached image)

...for this video clip *which RT removed from their site, and I was asked to remove from my youtube upload* ... however, since someone else has posted the video there is some down looking footage.. however, it may have been added from another source see below..


RQ-170 sentinel iran released decoded footage from captured U.S israel drone 06/02/2013 - YouTube

the "symbology" data to be outside the "cropped" space (perhaps the data is on the black bars) which we don't see,because of Iranian cropping... or far simpler the "Data" is added to the raw video before being transmitted, however, the video is recorded raw (or encoded) to a storage device, then its overlaid with sensor data/gps etc and then the "combined data is transmitted"

video source -> video stream -> temp storage hard drive + v.loc/sensor data = complete data stream -> transmit to receiving station

all that shows is that on that particular asset they were not using the platform as a streaming waypoint - ie they were concurrently storing data on it -

Of course the RQ is not a streaming asset, its like saying, "lets put an MTV TV broadcast station on a B2" ... why design a "stealthy" drone, if you are going to have it broadcast its location afterwards by sending out (encrypted or otherwise video data stream).

Its a Silent drone..

Yes a real time "view" from a drone is useful, however all signals sent esp a constant stream of UHF/MW any transmissions will cause it light up.

Thus I would strongly suggest that the RQ is a "silent" drone, stealthy, with on board recording facility and perhaps a "streaming" option available but not ON to ensure it doesn't light up in the RF or other spectrum.

Which answers why it could have been diverted and secured without being "destroyed" ... the drone was not streaming or "checking-in" with base in real time rather flying a programmed route, silently, no one knew that it wasnt coming home and needed to be sent a "self destruct" code until it didnt come home.



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Old February 8th, 2013   #20
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The only part of the video which contains some "symbology" data is the last frame 1.33 seconds (in the attached image)

...for this video clip *which RT removed from their site, and I was asked to remove from my youtube upload* ... however, since someone else has posted the video there is some down looking footage.. however, it may have been added from another source see below..


RQ-170 sentinel iran released decoded footage from captured U.S israel drone 06/02/2013 - YouTube

the "symbology" data to be outside the "cropped" space (perhaps the data is on the black bars) which we don't see,because of Iranian cropping... or far simpler the "Data" is added to the raw video before being transmitted, however, the video is recorded raw (or encoded) to a storage device, then its overlaid with sensor data/gps etc and then the "combined data is transmitted"

video source -> video stream -> temp storage hard drive + v.loc/sensor data = complete data stream -> transmit to receiving station

all that shows is that on that particular asset they were not using the platform as a streaming waypoint - ie they were concurrently storing data on it -

Of course the RQ is not a streaming asset, its like saying, "lets put an MTV TV broadcast station on a B2" ... why design a "stealthy" drone, if you are going to have it broadcast its location afterwards by sending out (encrypted or otherwise video data stream).

Its a Silent drone..

Yes a real time "view" from a drone is useful, however all signals sent esp a constant stream of UHF/MW any transmissions will cause it light up.

Thus I would strongly suggest that the RQ is a "silent" drone, stealthy, with on board recording facility and perhaps a "streaming" option available but not ON to ensure it doesn't light up in the RF or other spectrum.

Which answers why it could have been diverted and secured without being "destroyed" ... the drone was not streaming or "checking-in" with base in real time rather flying a programmed route, silently, no one knew that it wasnt coming home and needed to be sent a "self destruct" code until it didnt come home.



- Plas
I'm not going to individually counter all your response, for a number of reasons. A few of us deal with and or have more than a passing familiarity with how UAS work, and with ISR issues

However, a lot of the claims you are making about this footage and about how UAS work on a mission set is just plain incorrect.

Please ensure that you underly your claims about how things work as a matter of personal opinion, otherwise the uninformed are going to take it as actual fact when it is not.,

ISR missions are not developed or conducted in the manner you describe.
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Old February 8th, 2013   #21
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I'm not going to individually counter all your response, for a number of reasons. A few of us deal with and or have more than a passing familiarity with how UAS work, and with ISR issues

However, a lot of the claims you are making about this footage and about how UAS work on a mission set is just plain incorrect.

Please ensure that you underly your claims about how things work as a matter of personal opinion, otherwise the uninformed are going to take it as actual fact when it is not.,

ISR missions are not developed or conducted in the manner you describe.
In case of the RQ-170 I am un-informed and in the dark.. I agree, and submit. I did say Thus I would strongly suggest that as I dont know.

If you can help out and clarify, I would love to know more about ISR Mission profiles for this tier of a UAV or you can tell us how the UAS functions and integrates. Or more specific and focus on a Int. profile (even if hypothetical) over a sovereign nation with existing and functioning air defenses, such as Iran or North Korea, I would like to know more.

The loss/capture of the RQ-170 has been to me: excuses from USA and boasts from Iran. The truth is somewhere in the middle

Nothing makes me more appreciative of this forum is dealing with those who know and the overall good mood of sharing, level of interest and level of engagement that happens here.

For a UAV like the RQ with clearly visible stealth characteristics - I truly and honestly can not see the drone being used as a real time broadcast station in a hostile environment with where sufficient capability to triangulate broadcasts exist.

- again, I may be wrong - unless the US Military has figured out how to make RF/MW communication links be undetectable by bending laws of physics, or perfected point to point optical data link ...to stream at least 0.5mb/s of data over 150km+ without loss and deterioration.. ( I can see a point to point data stream work with a re-translator aircraft which then uses a uplink of higher power outside the hostile environment)

I am going to "assume" the following flight plan for a hostile airspace:

Once the UAV takes off, it has a pre-programmed route, it has a set of targets, logic to id and some level of AI to analyze and if criteria is met to loiter, it can receive plan and course changes - one way.. and transmit only if certain conditions are met .. such as: antennas on if while in safe air space, while coming in for a landing etc, or remotely the device is flagged to broadcast.

Where is the surveillance data stored if the aircraft can not uplink? locally of course in the aircraft.
Unlike the soviet union U2 overflights, its likely digitally recorded and not filmed.

thats my humble set of opinions, if folks here have knowledge of the RQ-170 design specs, flight profiles, data storage protocols and communication protocols and wants to say i'm completely wrong... please correct me, and as long as nothing too secretive is divulged pls educate me!

a Mission profile of a UAV over a territory with:
- air defenses,
- an airforce
- the country in question being under the control of the owner of the UAV
- the country being "closely" related to the owner of the UAV (Pakistan... as an RQ was apparently watching the Abbotabad 'take down' and transmitting in real time back to the pentagon

vs a nation with capacity and capability to detect and eliminate a drone should be quite different


Over a low tech target/or unable/incapable targets you can fly the UAV, have it transmit encrypted, non encrypted data, have it play Ride of the Valkyries ... if the folks below cant shoot it down or even know its up there, what does it matter?

last time I saw a video of a drone broadcasting... with someone else listening this happened: RUSSIAN MIG-29 SHOOTING DOWN GEORGIAN DRONE - YouTube
Anyway, I am not trying to flame war or a battle of wits, I just had more questions and I thought it was pretty cool that there was data on the RQ drone and the Iranians published it.

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Old February 8th, 2013   #22
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If you can help out and clarify, I would love to know more about ISR Mission profiles for this tier of a UAV or you can tell us how the UAS functions and integrates. Or more specific and focus on a Int. profile (even if hypothetical) over a sovereign nation with existing and functioning air defenses, such as Iran or North Korea, I would like to know more.
Something to keep in mind. While it is possible for some of the more outrageously incorrect assertions and assumptions to pointed out as such, giving accurate information on what/how some current ISR missions are conducted is really not something which is done. At least by those who actually know the what/how of such missions and with any interest in maintaining their own freedom/non-imprisoned status.

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Originally Posted by plasmahawk View Post
For a UAV like the RQ with clearly visible stealth characteristics - I truly and honestly can not see the drone being used as a real time broadcast station in a hostile environment with where sufficient capability to triangulate broadcasts exist.

- again, I may be wrong - unless the US Military has figured out how to make RF/MW communication links be undetectable by bending laws of physics, or perfected point to point optical data link ...to stream at least 0.5mb/s of data over 150km+ without loss and deterioration.. ( I can see a point to point data stream work with a re-translator aircraft which then uses a uplink of higher power outside the hostile environment)
Yes, you are wrong, or at least your understanding of physics and RF propagation is lacking. It is possible for a radio transmission to be directional, which means triangulation as most people understand it will not work, especially if the RF source is moving.

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Old February 8th, 2013   #23
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If there's a technology out there that can target aircraft by triangulating communications transmissions that is news to me. What system is this specifically? I think you may not fully understand the EM spectrum or how secure comms work.

I believe the reason we don't see symbology is that the footage is declassified public domain footage. When you see location and or range information on a video you are looking at classified material (some of which is found in public domain anyway). When the DoD declassifies this stuff they blur or black out this info. Why hide coordinates and date time group when you are running a propaganda campaign? It's counter intuitive. If I were Iran I would want to make sure this info was visible so the US and allies would know it's no bluff.
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Old February 8th, 2013   #24
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If there's a technology out there that can target aircraft by triangulating communications transmissions that is news to me. What system is this specifically? I think you may not fully understand the EM spectrum or how secure comms work.

I believe the reason we don't see symbology is that the footage is declassified public domain footage. When you see location and or range information on a video you are looking at classified material (some of which is found in public domain anyway). When the DoD declassifies this stuff they blur or black out this info. Why hide coordinates and date time group when you are running a propaganda campaign? It's counter intuitive. If I were Iran I would want to make sure this info was visible so the US and allies would know it's no bluff.
Correct, also of note, why would they overlay it at a later stage ? as previously mentioned, to many errors, data is superimposed live so there is no error
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Old February 10th, 2013   #25
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well, the technology has been around for a long time. Look at the debunks of the fake moon-landing myth. basically, you study the RF receiving times on two different locations (say Australia and the US), you can compare the receiving time differences and precisely locate the Eagle lunar module on the surface of the moon. The same is true for earth-to-earth communications. Even if the beam is directional, as long as you have one emitting and two receiving stations, you can get bearing and interception from the time differences. It's similar to how you locate yourself using GPS or any other precise clock (as in Quasars).

For a directional beam, it's trickier since you need an emitting unit, with a known frequency and polarisation, and two receiving units who'll get the emitter signal and compare to what they are supposed to be getting. They only need to find a frequency that interferes with the other causing a shift in the signal. If you know the frequency code, you will be then able to tell what they are transmitting. If you get more stations emitting and receiving, you'll square (as in resolve) ambiguities and the system will work even better. This is the physical theory behind it. Quite simple actually. I don't know if it's much trouble turning it into practice but that shouldn't be too hard. At least not in the time window we're considering here.

EDIT: Well, I think I oversimplified this problem trying not to go into much detail. What You actually need is basically a modulated pulse like a chirp pulse that could stop lowering frequency once contact was established with the directional R/F beam. That way you'd have the time at which the signal was intercepted and could get a bearing on the direction of the craft. Been reading a bit on ESM/SIGINT systems and those are especially suited for the EM "listening" role. Apparently Ethiopia bought four such advance systems from Ukraine which were kinda "lost" afterwards. If Iran managed to get a hold of them, those systems are probably their best bet countering VLO targets. This is just conjecture but it shows that technology for signal interception and triangulation is out there.

Source on the kolchuga's sale to Ethiopia:
cannot post due to post count.


EDIT2:
Can't post for the above reasons.

Aparently Iran has aquired Kolchugas directly from Ukraine. Not sure about the validity of this source,

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Old February 11th, 2013   #26
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My point is there's nothing out there that can do this, if there was I sure would know about it. And that's before we even start talking about freq hopping.
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Old February 11th, 2013   #27
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My point is there's nothing out there that can do this, if there was I sure would know about it. And that's before we even start talking about freq hopping.

Well, you are the defence professional but, if Iran has a system like the Kolchuga and can work it with an active system, then, with the right number crushing, it could be possible. Not saying it was or that it is very likely but, it's a possibility.

In my opinion, the drone probably fell due not due to Iranian meddling however, I can't bring my scientist side to disregard the other option. I mean, if I'm sitting in front of a computer thinking of ways to interfere with a R/F directional beam and can come up with an answer in 5 minutes, what could a team of scientists who have specific formation in the area and who are paid to look for such answers do? Iran got the Kolchuga system in late 2006. This means that Iranian scientists have been able to tinker and test with it for 6 years now. The possibility is there. It's not like inventing new technology. It's just using current technology to do it. The US has many good scientists but, I believe it takes more time and work for mice to become smarter than the traps to catch up.

Just my 2c and don't mean to be a wise guy or anything. This is more on a "don't underestimate the other guy" kind of answer.

This post is based on my understanding by reading previous posts that basically mention that a Stealth UAV is receiving and emitting information in real time.

One final question if I may, is it just the emissions from the UAV that are sent in a directional beam or does this information beam work in both ways simultaneously?

If you can provide some clarification on this I'm grateful. If I find myself on a blackhawk while blindfolded, bugger...
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Old February 11th, 2013   #28
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Well, you are the defence professional but, if Iran has a system like the Kolchuga and can work it with an active system, then, with the right number crushing, it could be possible. Not saying it was or that it is very likely but, it's a possibility.

In my opinion, the drone probably fell due not due to Iranian meddling however, I can't bring my scientist side to disregard the other option. I mean, if I'm sitting in front of a computer thinking of ways to interfere with a R/F directional beam and can come up with an answer in 5 minutes, what could a team of scientists who have specific formation in the area and who are paid to look for such answers do? Iran got the Kolchuga system in late 2006. This means that Iranian scientists have been able to tinker and test with it for 6 years now. The possibility is there. It's not like inventing new technology. It's just using current technology to do it. The US has many good scientists but, I believe it takes more time and work for mice to become smarter than the traps to catch up.

Just my 2c and don't mean to be a wise guy or anything. This is more on a "don't underestimate the other guy" kind of answer.

This post is based on my understanding by reading previous posts that basically mention that a Stealth UAV is receiving and emitting information in real time.

One final question if I may, is it just the emissions from the UAV that are sent in a directional beam or does this information beam work in both ways simultaneously?

If you can provide some clarification on this I'm grateful. If I find myself on a blackhawk while blindfolded, bugger...
It would appear that you missed (or perhaps misunderstood) a few things. For a UAV like the RQ-170, it would seem that the comms to & from the UAV is handled via SATCOM datalinks. If one looks at a few photos of the 'Beast of Kandahar' it would appear that there are some bumps/domes on the top of the wing which could house a skyward pointed satellite dish. By the very nature of a dish antennae, they are directional. While RF emissions from an aircraft-mounted satellite dish are detectable, the detecting antennae would need to be positioned between the transmitting aircraft and receiving satellite. In otherwords, unless Iran had a properly kitted out ELINT/ISR aircraft flying nearby the RQ-170 and at a higher altitude, Iran would not have been able to detect the transmissions from the RQ-170.

Now satellites also use dish antennaes when transmitting, which means these transmissions are also directional. It would be possible for an ESM system to detect RF emissions from the satellite (depending on how tightly the focus of the dish/RF beam was) but that would not provide much of a clue as to where the receiving UAV was located in flight.

Some of the UAV's which operate from local control centres might not use SATCOMMS, in which case RF emissions from them might be detectable, but AFAIK these are not LO stratetic UAV's but smaller man-portable 'backpack' recon ones.

Also potentially complicating the detection of RF emissions is the use of frequency-hopping and burst transmissions.

As for disrupting the comms between a UAV like an RQ-170 and a milsat, it might be possible for a hostile ground-based or airborne emitter to do so, but I am disinclined to discuss how on an open forum.

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Old February 12th, 2013   #29
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I can't argue what ifs. What I can argue is whether or not there is a recognized existing threat (there isn't). I agree it would be unwise to underestimate the Iranians however it seems somewhat humorous (to me at least) that the Iranians could get something this complex going when the Russians (or anybody else for that matter) didn't/couldn't.
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Old February 12th, 2013   #30
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I agree it would be unwise to underestimate the Iranians however it seems somewhat humorous (to me at least) that the Iranians could get something this complex going when the Russians (or anybody else for that matter) didn't/couldn't.
especially when they have none of the prerequisites or infrastructure in place to do the basics
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