According to an article in the Washington Post, the Iranians are now saying that they are in the final stages of extracting data from the drone. The Iranian government said that it planned to use the data to sue the US for infringing on its airspace.
Interestingly enough, the Iranians claimed that they are also planning to replicate the drone aircraft through a process of reverse engineering.
Now several things strike me in this context.
One is the fact that there might be a couple of serious faults with the design of the RQ-170.
One is, of course, tied to the that the Iranians were apparently able to hit it. The RQ-170 is built by Lockheed Martin and most experts agree that it is a stealth drone, built for reconnaissance. In other words, it’s a spy that isn’t supposed to show up on the enemy’s radar.
And it obviously did.
The second problem is the fact that the Iranians are apparently able to extract data from the downed drone. You’d expect that the data in question would be heavily encrypted. making it hard for them to decipher it. You would probably also expect the drone to be fitted with some sort of kill switch, that would try to erase the data, if the craft was damaged. This doesn’t seem to be the case.
Now, perhaps the data the drone in question wasn’t thought to be valuable enough to engage such a kill switch, or perhaps such a device isn’t fitted to the RQ-170. In not, then recent event seem to indicate that it probably be in the future.
All of this does, in some ways, make it less likely for the Iranians to actually be advancing in leaps and bounds as they claim to be. Because if they’re having so few difficulties getting the data and were able to actually hit the RQ-170, then why would they want to build more of them?
It would be like witnessing the first incarnation of the famous/infamous Mercedes A-class failing the security tests and then proceeding to build thousands of them.