Reverse engineering

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Whatever happened to our drone?

By Jay Miller

Two recent columns assured there is no worry about Iranian scientists reverse engineering the U.S. drone that mysteriously landed in Iran.
But Santa Fe reader Mike Patel reminds that although Iranian scientists couldn’t reverse engineer a baby buggy, they can provide access to interested countries.
Pitel notes that our friends in Pakistan gave China a look at our crashed stealth helicopter used in the killing of Osama bin Laden. They later gave us back the helicopter’s remains.
Iran was asked to give the drone back but that’s not going to happen.
And you can bet that China already has paid a visit to the drone and may eventually have it in its possession.
The price wouldn’t be cheap. Pitel suggests the trade-off might be 25 years of Chinese take-out.
My columns also mentioned our country’s inability to reverse engineer the space craft that crashed in Roswell in 1947.  
With the fall of Germany, we had recently captured the best rocket scientists in the world.
And they couldn’t produce anything like the flying saucers we were hearing about.
Does that mean there is a limit to reverse engineering?
It very likely could mean there was no flying saucer to reverse engineer. Or it could mean our military didn’t want to turn over alien technology to a bunch of guys who were loyal Nazis a few years before.
We do hear occasional stories contending that the amazing advances in communications and electronic technology could have come from reverse engineering some sort of alien technology.
The great scientific advances of our society bear little resemblance to the science fiction I read about 60 years ago.
Science fiction writers have a reputation of being on the cutting edge of scientific advances.
But those guys had it wrong. We still don’t have flying cars or a robot in every kitchen.
So we don’t know how this apparently undamaged super-secret aircraft got into enemy hands.
And believe me, the plane is a marvel of engineering. It looks nothing like the model airplane we see in every television shot of stories about it.  But there seems no denying that they have it.
How could we ever have let that happen? Top officials of the Iran’s theocracy say God brought to them safely.
Military officials say their computers took over control of the plane, which is operated from the United States. Oh, and it had a U.S. flag flying from it.
Iran also claims it is in the final stages of decryption and soon will be manufacturing the drone, with improvements, in mass quantity, for use in the United States.
So much for fairy tales. How did we ever let this happen? There is so much we don’t  know.
Our military claims the drone was flying over Afghanistan and strayed off course. We’ve heard that one before. If both countries are telling the truth, Iranian computers are very good to take over a plane just as it enters Iran’s air space.
If our drones can be guided to pick off so many al Qaeda leaders, why can’t we keep them from straying into Iran?  
How can we let such a valuable piece of scientific equipment land in enemy territory unharmed? Was all the drone’s scientific equipment automatically destroyed upon losing U.S. control?
Why wasn’t the entire drone exploded?  
Why didn’t we send another drone to destroy the downed one? Why don’t we find where the drone is now  and bomb it?
Our drones are reported to automatically return to the base from which they took off, if control over the craft is lost. That didn’t happen in this case.  Obviously, I should have been more worried about the loss of one of our country’s most advanced pieces of military equipment.
It may provide a primer for many of our enemies.  There is much more we need to know.

Jay Miller