Intelligence: August 13, 2003


During the first week of August, U.S. troops at the Al Taqqadum air base outside Baghdad noticed what looked like the tail of a jet aircraft sticking out of a sand dune near base. Further investigation revealed that it was a buried Russian MiG-25 reconnaissance aircraft (with the wings removed). The MiG-25 was designed and built in the 1970s as an interceptor for a new, high flying American bomber (the B-70). But the B-70 was cancelled, and the MiG-25 wasn't (that's another story). So the high flying and very fast MiG-25 was turned into a successful recon aircraft. Iraq was thought to have ten of them. U.S. Air Force investigators who examined the one that was dug up were surprised because it appeared to be a more modern model of the MiG-25 that they believed had not been exported. But the Russians are good at keeping secrets, and it's likely that they did export it and kept it quiet. However, there's a possibility that it was exported after 1991 (and in violation of the UN arms embargo.)

At least two dozen other warplanes were found to be buried around the Iraqi air base. This should come as no surprise, as the Iraqis frequently buried front line tanks to avoid American bombs during the 1991 Gulf War. Before the 2003 war, there were reports from Iraq (not yet confirmed) that the Iraqis had buried their chemical and biological weapons out in the desert. American weapons inspectors now say that they are finding Iraqis who know something about more buried weapons. But nothing more has been announced. 


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