Is the U.S. Flying Fighter Aircraft and UAVs Over Iranian Airspace?


This is seriously interesting — and just demonstrates how rich the blogosphere can be.
A reader of The Washington Note who is in the UAV business was watching a YouTube video of an F16 flying with the “Hunter UAV payload.” I recommend you turn your volume down when you watch the clip.
But this reader understands telemetry and was interested in the telemetry overlay in one of the segments. The lat/lon reading on the video is N35.077 by E57.99.
He then looked up the coordinates on Google Maps. And low and behold, the spot is over a portion of Iran.
[See Update below, it turns out that the telemetry data needs to be modified before getting correct lat/lon points, and a number of clever readers have found that the spot the film was taken was near Fort Huachuca.]
As this clever analyst suggests: “Unless they have falsified the coordinates as part of a training exercise, does this mean that we’re flying fighter aircraft and UAVs over Iranian airspace?”
I know my limits, and I don’t know the answer to this question, but I am asking some friends of mine in the “intelligence community” to check this out and give me a read on whether America is war-gaming in Iran already.
I suspect that this may somehow have telemetry for a war game with virtual rather than real coordinates, but let’s hear from the experts.

— Steve Clemons

Update: Arms Control Wonk has more on the story.
Update 2: Jeffrey Lewis of Arms Control Wonk has just gotten back to me with a report that we screwed up reading the “UAV easting/northing”.
Well, he’s right — as I just see the numbers on the screen and don’t know how to properly read any of this. Turns out though that the site where the film was shot is about 20 kilometers from Fort Huachuca. Thanks Jeff.