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Iran allegedly used GPS exploit to capture US drone

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Reports indicate that Iran used a GPS exploit to capture the CIA's RQ-170 stealth drone. The US denies the explanation, and insists the device was lost to a technical malfunction.


The US surveillance drone that is now in the hands of Iran was allegedly captured using a GPS exploit. The Christian Science Monitor has what it claims to be an exclusive interview with an Iranian intelligence engineer, who states that the country was able to cut off the RQ-170's communications with the CIA and reprogram the drone with a new navigational course. Still, the supposed operation wasn't without fault: a slight difference in altitude between the original intended landing spot in Afghanistan and where the Iranians instead had the detoured drone touch down resulted in a rough landing. Damage to the left wing can be seen in photographs released by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, though the United States says that same damage confirms the drone was lost to a technical malfunction, not electronic warfare on Iran's part.

In either scenario, the end result is that Iran now has access to a vital US intelligence tool and the collective technology within. The idea that military GPS continues to prove susceptible to location spoofing is also of concern, and officials are seeking better alternatives for the future: the Air Force doled out two contracts worth $47 million apiece back in September with the intent of developing a replacement that will see use on military aircraft and missiles.