When I heard about the helicopter that went down during the raid at the bin Laden compound, my first concern after the safety of the crew was that now a high technology aircraft would be available to the enemy for inspection. Even after learning that the craft was "blown in place," I was still worried that unless some high temperature incendiary material like white phosphorous was used prior to the explosion, the pieces remaining would be intact enough to glean useful info. My worst fears were confirmed with the release of photos by Reuters (always sure to post images that could harm the U.S.) showing not just this large section of the tail boom and rotor, but also smiling kids walking around with scrounged parts of airframe and electronics gear.
As an engineer who spent many years tearing down other company's designs to figure out how they designed and implemented leading edge circuits (and also checking for patent infringements), I can tell you that a circuit or system does not have to be in full functioning order to yield critical information. Material samples are now available for the stealth skin composition, lamination and attachment methods, and facet angles. Super quiet airfoil and blade shape data is available. Metallurgical studies will no doubt be carried out in Russia and China on the transmission and bearing assemblies. Even fuel and lubrication samples will get a thorough examination. Have you seen the photos of how the FAA reassembles aircraft in a hangar when an accident occurs? Some of our best communications gear is also being reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle. Über top secret circuits will be studied and replicated using information from multi-layer substrate construction, component attachment, and special microelectronics devices formulated and built in über top secret facilities to provide our elite fighters with the world's best equipment (some of which, reportedly, mysteriously blacked out for 25 minutes during the actual raid). Samples of proprietary software and firmware will be reverse engineered as well. Imagine the delight on the faces of Red Army engineers sitting in their labs when they inspect the flight controller system and see all those microcontrollers with "Made in China" stamped on them!.
Posted May 5, 2011