Check out these hi-res screenshots of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone that went down inside Iran recently. They give a unprecedented close up view of the airplane; so unprecedented that many, including me, wondered at first blush whether this drone is real. It seems increasingly likely that the drone Iran is showing off is indeed an RQ-170. While the coloring looks different than it does in earlier pics of the jet, these images reveal details like seams for access ports, light damage to the wing and a grill over the engine intake that may be designed to increase the jet’s stealthiness. Notice how there might be damage to the jets wing roots; perhaps they were sheared off for transport. Who knows?
These pictures also show a plane that almost looks a bit dated compared to latest batch of stealth drones taking to the skies (keep in mind that’s an extremely unscientific analysis on my part, modern stealth tech is extremely complex and you can’t just judge this thing’s performance on a few screenshots). That’s a good thing, since Iran has already promised to reverse engineer the bird along with all its sensors and share that data with China and Russia. Speaking of sensors, the real cause for concern with this plane falling into Tehran’s hands is the fact that it’s rumored to contain a similar radar to the AN/APG-81 radar found on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter along with advanced SIGINT sensors and cameras. You can bet that Beijing will be very interested in using tech recovered from this plane to develop countermeasures to some of our most advanced sensors.
Click through the jump for more of the pictures, discovered by David Cenciotti. He asks the decent question over on his blog; why is the drone being displayed in a gymnasium with what appears to be fluid all over its hardwood floor? Is the hidden underside of the Sentinel so damaged that it left a mess all over the floors?