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Iraq Shows Media Its Controversial Drone Aircraft

March 13, 2003|John Daniszewski | Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — In a bid to blunt American charges that Iraq had been trying to hide an undeclared drone aircraft capable of dispersing chemical or biological weapons, officials took journalists Wednesday to a military factory on the northern outskirts of Baghdad to look at the remotely controlled craft.

Built of balsa wood and duct tape, with a motorcycle engine attached, the prototype, known as RPV30A, looked like a model airplane on steroids as it sat on a concrete apron at Ibn Firnas State Co., where the air force general who runs the company and the brigadier who heads the project were on hand to answer questions.

Last week, John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, complained that weapons inspectors had discovered the previously undeclared drone but that chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix had failed to mention it in his address to the Security Council.

But a spokesman for the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate told the reporters that the drone had been declared in a Jan. 15 report to the United Nations. The confusion arose, he said, because of a typographical error that had listed its wingspan as 4.4 meters, or 14.4 feet, rather than the correct wingspan of 7.4 meters, or 24.3 feet.

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