Captive CIA-Operated Drone in Iran Conceals its Inner Workings
December 13, 2011
Late last week, Iran celebrated its acquisition of a CIA-operated stealth drone that crashed in its territory. Photos and videos were released, showing a slick bat-shaped aircraft, grounded and jarringly out of place in a gymnasium-like setting in Tehran, its white, streamlined shell teeming with intelligence-revealing and reverse engineering possibilities. Moreover, the prized specimen was shown elevated on a podium, photographed against a colorful banner that reads “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to England,” and in case those fighting words weren’t enough, another banner strung along the bottom of the podium reads, “America can’t do a damn thing,” reports Newsweek.
True, President Obama has already sent out a preliminary “can I have my drone back, please?” request, which was met with an expected negative response. Does this mean America really can’t do a damn thing? According to Wired, America has already done quite a few things, all of which rest in the drone’s design. Though Iran will probably enlist a fleet of scientists and engineers from equally curious sometime Iranian-allies China and Russia—both of whom have been known to routinely copy military hardware—aircraft designers in the U.S. are still quite hopeful that the drone dissection will reveal little more beyond the geometry of its seemingly Eero Saarinen-inspired, radar-evading airframe. Key components such as the alloys and non-metal composites in the undetectable exhaust ducting may be simple to identify but highly difficult to reproduce, reflecting decades of cutting-edge research. And the radar sensors, if in tact in the crashed drone, require foreign software to read—software that includes classified anti-tamper measures.
Simply put, the drone will require a great deal of work to reveal its inner workings, much more than a simple pry. It is, after all, an object crafted to embody the height of concealment and obscuration in an age when information is perhaps too readily available.