U.S. Expected to Strike Back for Iran’s Downing of Drone

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President Donald Trump / Getty Images

 

Trump: ‘Iran made a big mistake’

The United States is likely to take military action against Iran in the coming days for Tehran’s downing a U.S. drone in international airspace on Wednesday near the Strait of Hormuz.

The Central Command said an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace around 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday. Continue reading

China tests new spy drones in near space ‘death zone’

China launches a drone into near space – at an altitude of 25km. Photo: Yang Yanchu, Academy of Optoelectronics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

 

High-altitude unmanned vehicles tasked with military intelligence gathering can fit inside a shoebox and cost just a few hundred yuan

High-altitude spy drones could help China dominate “near space” – a region of the Earth’s atmosphere that is at the heart of a modern-day space race.

Near space, which begins at about 20km above sea level, has until now been regarded a “death zone” for drones – thin air at this altitude makes it hard to generate lift, while extremely low temperatures mean electronic components like batteries are prone to fail.

However, a new type of Chinese-developed drone that is undergoing testing appears to have overcome such difficulties, marking a significant step towards China’s ambitions of exploiting near space for purposes of military intelligence.

Continue reading

China Takes Nuclear Weapons Underwater Where Prying Eyes Can’t See

China is preparing to arm its stealthiest submarines with nuclear missiles that could reach the U.S., cloaking its arsenal with the invisibility needed to retaliate in the event of an enemy strike.

Fifty years after China carried out its first nuclear test, patrols by the almost impossible-to-detect JIN class submarines armed with nuclear JL–2 ballistic missiles will give President Xi Jinping greater agility to respond to an attack.

The nuclear-powered subs will probably conduct initial patrols with the missiles by the end of this year, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” according to an annual report to Congress submitted in November by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Continue reading

Growth in China’s Drone Program Called ‘Alarming’

HONG KONG — At China’s biennial air show in Zhuhai this month, an imposing fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles was on display — drones bearing a striking resemblance to the American aircraft that have proved so deadly in attacks on insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Israel, Britain and the United States have pretty much had a corner on the global drone market, but the recent Chinese air show and a Pentagon report have exploded that notion.

“In a worrisome trend, China has ramped up research in recent years faster than any other country,” said the unclassified analysis published in July by the Defense Science Board. “It displayed its first unmanned system model at the Zhuhai air show five years ago, and now every major manufacturer for the Chinese military has a research center devoted to unmanned systems.”

The report, which said “the military significance of China’s move into unmanned systems is alarming,” suggested that China could “easily match or outpace U.S. spending on unmanned systems, rapidly close the technology gaps and become a formidable global competitor in unmanned systems.Continue reading

Iran Didn’t Bring Down the RQ-170. A Chinese Cyber Whiz Team Did

After establishing the cause of the crash of the unmanned American spy drone, the stealth RQ-170, over Iran on Dec. 4, 2011, the US is continuing to use that type of UAV, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said on Jan. 13. Without disclosing the results of the investigation, he said, ”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.”

US officials reject Iran’s claim that it brought down the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel but remain tight-lipped about what caused the crash.

Both American sources, while insisting that the RQ-170 was still in commission, never said it was again flying over Iran.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military and intelligence sources offer three disclosures to explain the publicity strategy pursued by US officials:

1. The Americans know Iran did not bring the RQ-170 down because their intelligence agencies discovered the culprits were a Chinese cyber warfare team which seized control of the drone; Iran was given the passive role of being told where and when to hold out their arms to catch it.

The Obama administration is keeping this information to itself so as not to compromise US economic relations with China, especially in a presidential election year.

– Republican contenders would seize on this information as valuable campaign ammunition against President Barack Obama. They already accuse him of being soft on North Korea and he cannot afford to have US inaction against China added to their campaign fodder.

American needs to keep China on its side

– The US is casting about for levers to bring Beijing aboard the oil embargo on Iran. Wednesday, Feb. 1, German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to China at Obama’s request to try her hand at persuading Beijing to at least reduce its crude purchases from Tehran, if not join the embargo. Getting into a row with China over the stealth drone would not help persuade its leaders to cooperate in sanctions against Iran but might risk bringing US-Chinese relations to an unprecedented low.

– Washington needs Beijing’s cooperation in the global financial crisis and even more, to shore up the dollar’s value as an international currency. China holds a large part of its reserves in US government bonds and dollars. A diplomatic falling-out between Washington and Beijing might well spur the Chinese to turn away from the dollar, as Moscow, Tehran and New Delhi are in the process of doing. They have indicated their willingness to take this course on past occasions.

2. US intelligence has not discovered whether the Chinese cyber warfare team is still in Iran or has gone, leaving behind instructors and high-tech equipment for Tehran to counter US drones and planes on its own. Another RQ-170 flight over Iran might provide some answers, but President Obama is flatly against this. If Iran – and China – were to get hold of a second advanced American UAV, he would have no option but to hit back at the Islamic Republic – or even at Chinese targets in Iran.

Full article: Iran Didn’t Bring Down the RQ-170. A Chinese Cyber Whiz Team Did (DEBKAfile / War Sclerotic re-blog)