On December 8th Iran displayed what appeared to be an American RQ-170 jet powered UAV, which they claimed had landed intact in Iran two weeks earlier. Iran claimed they had hijacked the control signals for the RQ-170 and landed it themselves. This seemed highly unlikely, but not impossible. Experts on Iranian military technology immediately suspected something else. First, the Iranians are constantly lying about their military exploits, especially when it comes to developing new weapons and technology. This is apparently done mainly for domestic propaganda, as satellite photos never show more than a few prototypes of these wonder-weapons. Then many Americans familiar with the RQ-170 carefully studied the pictures of the “captured” RQ-170 and immediately suspected something was off. For one thing, the RQ-170 shown was the right size and shape, but the wrong color. Not just a different color from that seen on many photos of the RQ-170s in Afghanistan, but also a color unknown in American military service. A closer examination of the Iranian RQ-170 photos indicated that the Iranians had reassembled an RQ-170 that had crashed, and broken into three or more pieces. Then the Iranians apparently gave the UAV a new paint job (which was obvious to anyone seeing those photos.)
At the moment, the only things one can be sure of is that the American operators of the UAV lost the satellite signal connection with the RQ-170, and the aircraft eventually crashed. There was no indication of Iranians jamming the satellite signal. Iran has jammed satellite signals before, but wide area entertainment programming, not encrypted UAV control signals. Thus many mysteries remain, but some have been cleared up because the Iranians could not resist creating a photo opportunity.