PLEASE READ THE ORIGINAL POST FIRST: http://aviationintel.com/?p=4322
There are THREE MORE pieces of comparative photographic evidence that I would like to present to my readers that should help put the validity question surrounding Iran’s bat-winged trophy almost totally to rest. This evidence is unbelievably conclusive, to a point that I will now say that I am 90-95% sure that this aircraft is totally legitimate.
1.) The Black Tape On The Leading Edge
RED ARROWS IN THE PICTURE ABOVE AND BELOW: In the only operational picture I have ever seen taken of the right front side of the RQ-170. In it you can faintly, but definitively, make out the two mysterious pieces of black tape that were so noticeable in the Iranian TV video and still photos. How on earth would the Iranians have decided to go with such an odd placement of black tape on a high-tech, stealthy drone mockup? Maybe they would have seen this photo and interpreted the tape as small camera apertures, or mesh covered vents in an attempt to explain them. This is IF they even noticed them at all or didn’t just throw them out as a photographic anomaly. They most certainly would not have come to the conclusion that those little black lines are some sort of taped white seam covered in what appears to be almost black electrical tape! It’s really just to hokey to believe.
2.) The Wing Joints
RED ARROW IN THIS PICTURE AND RED ARROW IN THE PREVIOUS PICTURE: After reviewing all the known shots of the RQ-170 taken before Iran put their’s on display, I noticed that in the picture above a wing joint is actually visible! Yes, the wing seams displayed in the previous picture appear much cruder in nature, but regardless, the RQ-170 has a definitive wing joint and seam in the exact same place as seen in the recent video and stills. In fact it is fairly safe to assume that the majority of the Sentinel is made up of three primary sections, the fuselage and the two wings, as I predicted in my earlier photo analysis. This also lends credit to the fact that those joints, although not as clean as they once were after the drone had crashed or was partially dismantled, are in fact a design feature of the RQ-170, not just a nasty byproduct of the incident in question. In other words, the Iranians didn’t just decide to saw the wings off in that place, that exactly where they join the fuselage. They may even be removable for easy transportation aboard a C-17 or even possibly a C-130. In the shot above the seams are very, very hard to see, yet they are without a doubt there. Would the Iranians even include such a vaguely defined detail in their mockup? If so why would they display that feature as brutally as they did?
3.) The Front Gear Well
RED ARROW IN THE IMAGE ABOVE, BLUE ARROW IN THE PREVIOUS IMAGE: This little gem was sent in by an aviationintel reader. On a side note, I want to give everyone a big thanks for all the contributions lately, the site has simply exploded over the last couple of months, and especially the last week. Keep them coming please! I want to provide my readers with the very best in-depth commentary and I cannot do it without your insights and observations. Anyways, back to the image above in relation to the one previous. Please ignore the beige bar running across the image, it had some writing on it, like a IP address and such so I just blurred it out. If you notice the red arrow points to the wheel well in the exact same unique offset configuration as the previous picture of the drone on approach to land. This is very important for two reasons. First, it shows an additional detail that was totally unnecessary to be included in a fake mockup that was intended to sit on some type of gurney with a skirt around it. Further, its not just some random “this is where the gear goes” representative hole, it matches perfectly with the unique offset designed features highlighted by the blue arrow in the previous photo. If the Iranian Government told a team of fabricators (and frankly artists) to build something to look as much as possible like a real RQ-170 in a very short period of time and the plan was to display it with a shroud hanging below it, would they really build it with a inconsequential hole in the bottom for the gear? One that nobody would need to see and only raises more question than it answers? I serious doubt it. Secondly, the fact that there appears to be no door hanging down beside the wheel does lend some weight to the likely possibility that the drone made a hard landing on its belly and the door sheared off either after the gear collapsed or during a a belly landing. If the gear door was intact it would be poking out of the fabric hung around the jet, as it is shaped in a pointed, radar evading manner.
The comparative photos featuring the odd placement of the black tape, the existence of a distinct wing joint in both the before and after pictures, and especially the fact that there is a needlessly accurate landing gear well visible, even though it would have no reason to be included in a mockup that was designed to sit on a shrouded platform as it was shown in the video, really pushes the chips confidently to the “its real” side of the scale for me. These three facts include such minor details and/or such positive explanations for some of the strange factors hovering around the video and the pictures supplied by Iranian officials that I think you would have to be in serious denial not to believe that this machine is not indeed a real RQ-170 Sentinel drone. I am now 90-95% sure that the aircraft is totally legitimate. That 5% left over is really due to the dated Exif data attached to the high-resolution shots. The only scenario where I could see this thing being a fake is that possibly Iran had planned to use their new Russian jamming equipment to take down one of these pesky spy planes, so they built a painstakingly elaborate mockup in advance, using pictures from the net to try and guesstimate what the exact article looks like. This mockup would serve as a propaganda tool if indeed Iran was able to shoot down a Sentinel. They would say that they hacked into its encrypted network and took full control using their incredible cyber warfare abilities etc etc etc. This would be a sharp and confusing kick in the teeth to America, and would help promote the Government’s agenda against the west… BUT If you believe this story than I have some beachfront property in Afghanistan to sell you, and if you buy today it comes with an unlimited supply of tinfoil hats… UPDATE: A valued reader has informed me that the Persian calendar reads Dec 8th, 2011 as September 17th, 2011. I have confirmed this, so disregard the EXIF data anomaly, it is now accurate!
The DRONE IS REAL and against all odds ITS INCREDIBLY INTACT. It’s next stop will be Iran Aircraft Industries for some detailed documentation, then it will go up on “uaVBay” and the reserve price will have plenty of zeros in it.
To access to all RQ-170 “Sentinel Down” related posts, in order from newest to oldest, please click on the link below!