[time-nuts] "The GPS navigation is the weakest point,"

J. Forster jfor at quikus.com
Thu Dec 15 18:04:08 EST 2011

I'm not so sure. What if you has one site, antenna, and transmitter and a
dozen signal sources with programmable synthesizers and coders.

The drone antenna is likely omni. The Russians or Chinese could easily
supply that.



> Fascinating.
> I can picture setting up a bunch of transmitters in the hills to send out
> strong GPS-like signals to mimic the real thing. I suppose you could
> control those signals to fool the device it is somewhere else. That bit is
> very clever - you'd have to adjust the signals taking into account current
> positions of all current satellites. Smart bit of work there.
> But it would also need incredible timing. Even a few ns out and it
> wouldn't
> work. So how do you set up fantastic timing at different locations of
> transmitters throughout a country. Well you've blocked the GPS - so that's
> no good.
> It would require local atomic clocks (good ones) at each location.
> Do they have access to such things? Maybe I'm being naive.
> Jim
> On 16 December 2011 08:10, J. Forster <jfor at quikus.com> wrote:
>> Iran hijacked US drone, claims Iranian engineer  Tells Christian Science
>> Monitor that CIA's spy aircraft was 'spoofed' into landing in enemy
>> territory instead of its home base in Afghanistan
>> Iran guided the CIA's "lost" stealth drone to an intact landing inside
>> hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to
>> the
>> US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the
>> captured
>> drone's systems inside Iran.
>> Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off
>> communications
>> links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who
>> works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently
>> trying
>> to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could
>> not
>> be named for his safety.
>> Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a
>> technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the
>> Iranian
>> specialists then reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates to make it
>> land
>> in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in
>> Afghanistan.
>> "The GPS navigation is the weakest point," the Iranian engineer told the
>> Monitor, giving the most detailed description yet published of Iran's
>> "electronic ambush" of the highly classified US drone. "By putting noise
>> [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This
>> is
>> where the bird loses its brain."
>> The “spoofing” technique that the Iranians used – which took into
>> account
>> precise landing altitudes, as well as latitudinal and longitudinal data
>>>> made the drone “land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to
>> crack the remote-control signals and communications” from the US control
>> center, says the engineer.
>> The revelations about Iran's apparent electronic prowess come as the US,
>> Israel, and some European nations appear to be engaged in an
>> ever-widening
>> covert war with Iran, which has seen assassinations of Iranian nuclear
>> scientists, explosions at Iran's missile and industrial facilities, and
>> the
>> Stuxnet computer virus that set back Iran’s nuclear program.
>> Now this engineer’s account of how Iran took over one of America’s most
>> sophisticated drones suggests Tehran has found a way to hit back. The
>> techniques were developed from reverse-engineering several less
>> sophisticated American drones captured or shot down in recent years, the
>> engineer says, and by taking advantage of weak, easily manipulated GPS
>> signals, which calculate location and speed from multiple satellites.
>> Rock Center: Iran's growing influence in
>> Iraq<
>> http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/13/9398341-a-growing-iranian-threat-in-wake-of-us-military-withdrawal-from-iraq-this-month
>> >
>> Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS
>> spoofing
>> indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is
>> plausible.
>> "Even modern combat-grade GPS [is] very susceptible” to manipulation,
>> says
>> former US Navy electronic warfare specialist Robert Densmore, adding
>> that
>> it is “certainly possible” to recalibrate the GPS on a drone so that it
>> flies on a different course. “I wouldn't say it's easy, but the
>> technology
>> is there.”
>> In 2009, Iran-backed Shiite militants in Iraq were found to have
>> downloaded
>> live, unencrypted video streams from American Predator drones with
>> inexpensive, off-the-shelf software. But Iran’s apparent ability now to
>> actually take control of a drone is far more significant.
>> Iran asserted its ability to do this in September, as pressure mounted
>> over
>> its nuclear program.
>> Gen. Moharam Gholizadeh, the deputy for electronic warfare at the air
>> defense headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),
>> described to Fars News how Iran could alter the path of a GPS-guided
>> missile – a tactic more easily applied to a slower-moving drone.
>> *Downed US drone: How Iran caught the
>> 'beast'*<
>> http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/1209/Downed-US-drone-How-Iran-caught-the-beast
>> >
>> “We have a project on hand that is one step ahead of jamming, meaning
>> ‘deception’ of the aggressive systems,” said Gholizadeh, such that “we
>> can
>> define our own desired information for it so the path of the missile
>> would
>> change to our desired destination.”
>> Gholizadeh said that “all the movements of these [enemy drones]” were
>> being
>> watched, and “obstructing” their work was “always on our agenda.”
>> That interview has since been pulled from Fars’ Persian-language
>> website.
>> And last month, the relatively young Gholizadeh died of a heart attack,
>> which some Iranian news sites called suspicious – suggesting the
>> electronic
>> warfare expert may have been a casualty in the covert war against Iran.
>> *Iran's growing electronic capabilities
>> *Iranian lawmakers say the drone capture is a "great epic" and claim to
>> be
>> "in the final steps of breaking into the aircraft's secret code."
>> Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Fox News on Dec. 13 that the US
>> will
>> "absolutely" continue the drone campaign over Iran, looking for evidence
>> of
>> any nuclear weapons work. But the stakes are higher for such
>> surveillance,
>> now that Iran can apparently disrupt the work of US drones.
>> US officials skeptical of Iran’s capabilities blame a malfunction, but
>> so
>> far can't explain how Iran acquired the drone intact. One American
>> analyst
>> ridiculed Iran’s capability, telling Defense News that the loss was
>> “like
>> dropping a Ferrari into an ox-cart technology culture.”
>> A former senior Iranian official who asked not to be named said: "There
>> are
>> a lot of human resources in Iran.... Iran is not like Pakistan."
>> “Technologically, our distance from the Americans, the Zionists, and
>> other
>> advanced countries is not so far to make the downing of this plane seem
>> like a dream for us 
 but it could be amazing for others,” deputy IRGC
>> commander Gen. Hossein Salami said this week.
>> Iran: Obama should apologize for drone
>> 'spying'<
>> http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/13/9417003-iran-obama-should-apologize-for-drone-spying-operation
>> >
>> According to a European intelligence source, Iran shocked Western
>> intelligence agencies in a previously unreported incident that took
>> place
>> sometime in the past two years, when it managed to “blind” a CIA spy
>> satellite by “aiming a laser burst quite accurately.”
>> More recently, Iran was able to hack Google security certificates, says
>> the
>> engineer. In September, the Google accounts of 300,000 Iranians were
>> made
>> accessible by hackers. The targeted company said "circumstantial
>> evidence"
>> pointed to a "state-driven attack" coming from Iran, meant to snoop on
>> users.
>> Cracking the protected GPS coordinates on the Sentinel drone was no more
>> difficult, asserts the engineer.
>> *US knew of GPS systems' vulnerability
>> *Use of drones has become more risky as adversaries like Iran hone
>> countermeasures. The US military has reportedly been aware of
>> vulnerabilities with pirating unencrypted drone data streams since the
>> Bosnia campaign in the mid-1990s.
>> Top US officials said in 2009 that they were working to encrypt all
>> drone
>> data streams in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – after finding militant
>> laptops loaded with days' worth of data in Iraq – and acknowledged that
>> they were "subject to listening and exploitation."Perhaps as easily
>> exploited are the GPS navigational systems upon which so much of the
>> modern
>> military depends.
>> "GPS signals are weak and can be easily outpunched [overridden] by
>> poorly
>> controlled signals from television towers, devices such as laptops and
>> MP3
>> players, or even mobile satellite services," Andrew Dempster, a
>> professor
>> from the University of New South Wales School of Surveying and Spatial
>> Information Systems, told a March conference on GPS vulnerability in
>> Australia.
>> "This is not only a significant hazard for military, industrial, and
>> civilian transport and communication systems, but criminals have worked
>> out
>> how they can jam GPS," he says.
>> *Unmanned drone attacks and shape-shifting robots: War's remote-control
>> future*<
>> http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2011/1022/Unmanned-drone-attacks-and-shape-shifting-robots-War-s-remote-control-future
>> >
>> The US military has sought for years to fortify or find alternatives to
>> the
>> GPS system of satellites, which are used for both military and civilian
>> purposes. In 2003, a “Vulnerability Assessment Team” at Los Alamos
>> National
>> Laboratory published research explaining how weak GPS signals were
>> easily
>> overwhelmed with a stronger local signal.
>> “A more pernicious attack involves feeding the GPS receiver fake GPS
>> signals so that it believes it is located somewhere in space and time
>> that
>> it is not,” reads the Los Alamos report. “In a sophisticated spoofing
>> attack, the adversary would send a false signal reporting the moving
>> target’s true position and then gradually walk the target to a false
>> position.”
>> The vulnerability remains unresolved, and a paper presented at a Chicago
>> communications security conference in October laid out parameters for
>> successful spoofing of both civilian and military GPS units to allow a
>> "seamless takeover" of drones or other targets.
>> To “better cope with hostile electronic attacks,” the US Air Force in
>> late
>> September awarded two $47 million contracts to develop a "navigation
>> warfare" system to replace GPS on aircraft and missiles, according to
>> the
>> Defense Update website.
>> Official US data on GPS describes "the ongoing GPS modernization
>> program"
>> for the Air Force, which "will enhance the jam resistance of the
>> military
>> GPS service, making it more robust."
>> *Why the drone's underbelly was damaged
>> *Iran's drone-watching project began in 2007, says the Iranian engineer,
>> and then was stepped up and became public in 2009 – the same year that
>> the
>> RQ-170 was first deployed in Afghanistan with what were then
>> state-of-the-art surveillance systems.
>> In January, Iran said it had shot down two conventional (nonstealth)
>> drones, and in July, Iran showed Russian experts several US drones –
>> including one that had been watching over the underground uranium
>> enrichment facility at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.
>> In capturing the stealth drone this month at Kashmar, 140 miles inside
>> northeast Iran, the Islamic Republic appears to have learned from two
>> years
>> of close observation.
>> Iran displayed the drone on state-run TV last week, with a dent in the
>> left
>> wing and the undercarriage and landing gear hidden by anti-American
>> banners.
>> The Iranian engineer explains why: "If you look at the location where we
>> made it land and the bird's home base, they both have [almost] the same
>> altitude," says the Iranian engineer. "There was a problem [of a few
>> meters] with the exact altitude so the bird's underbelly was damaged in
>> landing; that's why it was covered in the broadcast footage."
>> Prior to the disappearance of the stealth drone earlier this month,
>> Iran’s
>> electronic warfare capabilities were largely unknown – and often
>> dismissed.
>> "We all feel drunk [with happiness] now," says the Iranian engineer.
>> "Have
>> you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied
>> many-fold."
>> When the Revolutionary Guard first recovered the drone, they were aware
>> it
>> might be rigged to self-destruct, but they "were so excited they could
>> not
>> stay away."
>> ** **Scott Peterson* <http://www.csmonitor.com/tags/topic/Scott+Peterson
>> >*,
>> the Monitor's Middle East correspondent, wrote this story with an
>> Iranian
>> journalist who publishes under the pen name Payam Faramarzi and cannot
>> be
>> further identified for security reasons.
>> *
>> *© 2011 The Christian Science Monitor*
>> <
>> http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45685870/ns/world_news-christian_science_monitor/#
>> >
>> Best,
>> -John
>> ===============
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