The implementation of an active US drone surveillance program over Syria, put in place to monitor the eleven month old bloody uprising that seems to be turning rapidly into a full blown civil war, was admitted to exist today by a US official (as reported by NBC). Conventionally configured drones such as the RQ-1 Predator are fully capable of such missions but are not survivable when flying over even a rudimentary integrated air defense system. It would seem like the perfect asset for loitering over towns deep inside fortified Syrian airspace, that are currently under siege by the Assad regime, would be the RQ-170 Sentinel. It’s low observability design and full-motion video capabilities would allow for high-fidelity and persistent monitoring of the situation on the ground in areas that are almost fully cutoff from the outside world.

The official also stated that the interception of Syrian government and military communications is also part of the US’s strategy for making the case to the international community against Bashar Al Assad regime’s actions over the last year. Electronic intelligence, specifically localized communications eavesdropping, is reported to be one of the Sentinels hallmark capabilities. The bat-winged droned was said to have leveraged this capability during the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden last May in Abbottobad, Pakistan where the RQ-170 supposedly monitored local Pakistani first responder and military channels in real-time for any immediate reaction to the raid.

Although the RQ-170 Sentinel may have been knocked down over Iran it could be flying high once again over the embattled villages and towns of post Arab Spring Syria…

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  1. nico says:

    I don’t see why the US wouldn’t be flying RQ170 over Syria, it is perfect for the job. Even if you believe Iran had something to do with it going down and not a mechanical failure, Syria is in the middle of a civil war, I don’t think their air defenses are all 100% up and running.

    • says:

      Nico- I have a good feeling their military is pretty intact, especially their air defense units who are more highly trained than say a mainline soldier. The Syrians certainly watch their skies closely, especially since Israel’s raid on their nuclear development facility a few years back.

  2. Jeff Rambin says:

    Given the longstanding Iranian ties to Syria, do you see this as a sign that we’re not too worried about what the Iranians can glean from the crashed/downed Beast?

    • says:

      One positive thing about losing such a sensitive capability almost fully intact over hostile territory is that the cats is out of the bag. In other words, you can use the technology more freely not that you know it has been fully compromised.

  3. The Big Yak says:

    ^ Now that’s looking on the bright side.

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