Well here it is, Iran has put something on Display. It matches pretty well to the photos we have seen and it seems to be plausible size-wise (most estimations on size I have read were WAY blown out of proportion for something not that much taller than a runway marker!). Remember the RQ-170 is not an F-22, it would appear almost molded as it most likely used lower-end stealth manufacturing and rapid prototyping techniques. Note the F-117 style inlet grill. Is this the real McCoy? Possibly. It looks like a movie prop in this shot, but looks much better in the detailed pictures and video linked below. Remember this thing would have made a hard landing, so it might not be in perfect symmetrical shape. What is important is that Iran has played their hand. If it’s a mockup, which it very well could be, than we will almost certainly know that it must have been in a thousand pieces after the crash. If it’s the real deal we need to reevaluate our drone strategy in the region because Iran may have a way of taking them down intact! Make sure you also read through my latest analysis and critical updates on this developing story here: http://aviationintel.com/?p=4322
UPDATE: Video just uploaded-
YOU MUST CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO VIEW A SERIES OF DETAILED PICS!:
The story coming out of Iran-
UPDATE: My First Impressions
My first thoughts are why in the heck is this thing sitting in a school gym and how did they get that thing in there? Wouldn’t it have been much easier to display it in a hangar or a warehouse where there is at least a loading bay? If it is indeed a fake, after going through the process of recreating it, wouldn’t the Iranians have enough propaganda and marketing sense to display the thing in a professional manner? It looks like a highschool science project on that table with a paper backdrop etc. The only explanations I can think of for this is that the Iranians were probably very worried that the US was planning on destroying the drone via bombardment or a raid. So by keeping it a local school, full of children, and in an urban area, they would have some assurance that it would indeed not be destroyed by via a US strike. Also, maybe this facility is close to where the Sentinel went down so the Iranian military commandeered the Gym to hold the aircraft until a plan could be devised to properly move it to a more suitable location. I am sure that the Iranians are very paranoid about being tracked or even attacked from the air, especially after this thing landed on their doorstep, so transportation may be a more complicated issue than one might think.
UPDATE: Reactions From Other Analysts
Some analysts are blowing this specimen off as a fraud under very superficial conditions. I have heard the airframe in question’s color be called “sand” or “brownish” many times today. This is inaccurate. Look at the higher-resolution pictures posted within the link above and look at the conditions. The aircraft is being displayed in a gym surrounded by warm tones, and under sodium lights. Everything in a school gym takes on a warm hue in this configuration. Add the low sun angle coming through the windows and you have a slight tint to the aircraft’s skin. This is an illusion, its color is cream just as it has been in every picture taken so far. A color optimized for daytime high altitude surveillance. As a photographer I understand these illusions, but to the untrained eye I can understand the confusion. Also, apparently some think the wings are droopy and therefore it is not real. But in the higher-resolution photos you can clearly see that wings were epoxied back onto the fuselage in crude form, there is a huge seem that is highly noticeable. If the aircraft made a hard landing, and the wings were attached at that point, they may have separated from the airframe, hence the crude seam and drooping appearance. OR the whole thing could be made out of a fiberglass mold with the fine details added later, I am just trying to point out some overlooked details by the “experts” in the industry. I would put the authenticity on this aircraft at 45-55% at this point. 45% that it’s the real deal, 55% that it’s not.
UPDATE: Fox News Reports The Drone Displayed By The Iranians Is Real
I will produce a post soon as to my analysis as to the authenticity of the aircraft put on display by the Iranian military. Fox News’s contacts in the DoD appear to have already agreed that the aircraft is authentic, although these are unnamed sources. I have a couple of reservations so far as to the validity of the Iran’s claims but I just was sent high-resolution photos to look at and I don’t want to make a call until I have all the information available for analysis. Standby, this story is not even close to over folks!
A big thanks to my readers who sent me both links. We just may beat everyone to the story again gang!
To access to all RQ-170 “Sentinel Down” related posts, in order from newest to oldest, please click on the link below!