Iran has finally offered proof of its captured RQ-170 Sentinel drone, the top of the line stealth spy. And it looks like it's in perfect shape. Very bad news for American death from above, and very good news for China.
Iranian press has published a video showing Iranian military personnel inspecting the drone, which David Cenciotti points out is adorned in a special desert camo configuration. But camouflage isn't worth shit if your drone gets knocked out of the sky without of any sort of self-destruct mechanism or means of getting it back.
So what happens now? The US looks stupid, having been unable to destroy, or even find, its stolen toy. And Beijing will probably be sending a briefcase full of cash to Tehran pretty soon now—their burgeoning drone program is still far behind America's, and they'll be eager to dig into the Sentinel's extremely sophisticated electronic innards.
Or, this is a well-executed fake. Even if that's the case, NATO has already acknowledged the drone is gone—so Iran has something. An anonymous senior defense official told CNN "The Iranians have a pile of rubble and are trying to figure what they have and what to do with it," and this imagery certainly runs contrary to that, and jibes with Iran's claims that they used an electronic-based attack to bring down the plane. Furthermore, given the extent to which the Pentagon's clammed up about this on the record, Iran's mitts on the whole cake isn't out of the question. Generals tend not to talk about giant embarrassments and enormous national security setbacks. [David Cenciotti]
Update: Cenciotti has dug up hi-res images of the alleged down drown, which show what looks to be evidence of a rough grounding. Blake scrape or scorch marks—it's hard to tell, but signs of some sort of thud. Or paint.