Further Update: Reader “Canuck” converts the eastings/northings (E 553870 N 3503649 Z12 N) into latitude and longitude (31.6668° N -110.43172° W) to confirm that UAV was … about 20 km from Fort Huachuca. Canuck, you have a cold one waiting for you in Cambridge, MA.
I figured I would offer my paltry thoughts on the whole Hunter UAV in Iran story that Steve Clemons blogged at The Washington Note.
For those who haven’t been following it, a reader pointed out some UAV footage on YouTube with a very curious set of coordinates: N35.077 by E57.99
That would be Iran.
Steve was then extremely careful in how he assessed the information:
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.
I think Steve was totally right to blog it, said all the right things by way of disclaimer and hit the nail on the head when he suggested that the coordinates are probably virtual (or that Steve and I are way out of our depth reading UAV coordinates).
One reason for skepticism—I can’t seem to make the coordinates square with the time.
The video is attributed to the “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Battalion” (based at Fort Huachuca, AZ) and is labeled:
Although the UAV is operating in Daytime/IR mode, the date/time (GMT 5-10 20:42) suggests the UAV is operating around midnight local time (assuming the locale is Iran) … so Daytime/IR seems a like a weird choice.
On the other hand, if the UAV is near Fort Huachuca, AZ, the time would be around 2 in the afternoon—give or take an hour to account for whatever weird thing Arizona does with Daylight Savings Time. That would make Daytime/IR perfectly sensible.
But, let’s see what the boys and girls at Fort Huachuca say.
Update: Yup, apparently eastings and northings are distinct from latitude/longitude. Told you Steve and I were way out of our depth reading reading UAV coordinates. Thanks to many helpful readers, we have a nice explanation:
Based on the Universal Transverse Mercator map projection, is a planar locational reference system which provides positional descriptions accurate to 1 meter in 2,500 across the entire Earth’s surface except the poles. At the poles, the Universal Polar Stereographic (UPS) projection is used. The UTM system divides the Earth’s surface into a grid in which each cell, excluding overlap with its neighbors, is 6 degrees east to west, and 8 degrees north to south (with the exception of the row from 72-84 degrees north latitude). For any position in the UTM grid, X-Y coordinates can be determined in eastings and northings. Eastings are in meters with respect to a central meridian drawn through the center of each grid zone (and given an arbitrary easting of 500,000 meters). In the Northern Hemisphere, northings are read in meters from the equator (0 meters). In the Southern Hemisphere, the equator is given the false northing of 10 million meters.