Two weeks ago, the Pakistani army reportedly attacked and destroyed an al-Qaeda base in North Waziristan.
Among the “sophisticated equipment” captured from the “base” was a remote controlled drone, which — according to the army spokesman — was used by militants to spy on army movements. The drone was said to have been equipped with a sophisticated, wide-angle camera.
Dawn carried two letters from R/C plane hobbyists:
The toy plane is known among flying plane enthusiasts as the “winged dragon” and cost me around Rs3,000. It has a range of 1,500 feet and flies for only 15 minutes.
Wrote the other:
It [the plane] is powered by electricity and has a range of no more than a quarter of a mile. Even by the standards of such toy planes the one shown in the picture was not all a very sophisticated model. It has barely enough power to carry the payload of the battery and electric motor it comes with. In addition it is made of foam[…]
There it is. A Rs. 3,000 R/C plane made of foam is a sophisticated, unmanned aerial vehicle.
The BBC’s Jannat Jalil expresses similar concerns on the drone.
Upon my return to Islamabad I went to a toy shop.
There was the exact same plane, the same model - even the same, bright yellow colour. The price about $55. Who would have thought a spy plane could be so cheap. [link]
The ruling elite just doesn’t get it! It’s not like the local population has ever believed the lies that are fed to us. (On the contrary, Pakistanis have developed an automatic negator principle: believe the opposite of what the government says.)
Why then do they think that this ridiculous story-telling fools anyone? We know that a counter-terrorism success story needs to be dragged out kicking and screaming for President Musharraf’s yearly pilgrimage to the United States. But can they try — just a little bit — to make it believable? How about spending a little more money on a petrol-engine plane? Perhaps something not bright yellow… the Taliban would prefer a tasteful black anyway.
Update: I think Ms. Jalil may be off by $5. Rs. 3,000 — the irate letter writer’s estimate — is only about $50.