Let's hope anti-tamper technology is real, as one of the most advanced UAVs falls into Iranian hands
Well, there's little doubt now that a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has fallen into the hands of the Iranian government. The RQ-170 -- essentially an unmanned version of the U.S. Air Force Lockheed Martin B-2 stealth bomber -- recently was captured relatively undamaged in Eastern Iran while flying a reconnaissance mission, most likely from Afghanistan. The downed UAV has been shown on Iranian television.
If the Iranians have this sophisticated unmanned aircraft, then it's a virtual certainty that the Chinese and the Russians will get an extremely close look at the stealth UAV soon -- if they haven't already.
If there was ever a time for an advanced U.S. weapon system to have reliable anti-tamper technology aboard, it's now. Let's all hope that voiced Pentagon support for robust anti-tamper technology in recent years has been in earnest, and not just telling us what we want to hear.
Anti-tamper technology comes in a variety of forms, but its function, essentially, is to prevent unauthorized personnel -- like Chinese and Russian intelligence experts -- from reverse-engineering its electronic components and learning its secrets.
Anti-tamper technology most often is designed to sense unauthorized attempts to inspect electronic components such as solid-state memory chips and disk drives and wipe stored data clean without leaving a trace. Some anti-tamper technology even can physically destroy electronic components to keep its intellectual property from prying eyes.
Essentially anti-tamper technology was conceived to prevent any repeat of events like the so-called Hainan Island Incident a decade ago in which a U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft was forced down on the Chinese island of Hainan, and Chinese intelligence experts were able to glean important secrets from the plane's electronic gear.
Now we face something similar with the downed RQ-170 Sentinel UAV in Iran. Let's hope U.S. military officials have learned from their past mistakes.