Report: Iraq working on unmanned planes
February 26, 1998
Web posted at: 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraqi is attempting to develop an
unmanned aircraft capable of delivering chemical or
biological agents, according to a U.S. intelligence report.
Elements of the pilotless aircraft program previously have
been reported by the defense publication Jane's, and the
project is under investigation by U.S. intelligence agents,
The Associated Press reported Thursday.
An intelligence official told The Associated Press, on
condition of anonymity, that Iraq was trying to convert an
L-29 trainer jet into an unmanned delivery system for nerve
gas or the biological agent anthrax.
The jet would have a range of about 500 miles, great enough
to reach targets in Israel as well as most of the U.S. force
concentrations in the Persian Gulf, he said. But one version
of the aircraft recently crashed during a test flight, and
Iraq has not yet developed a tank that could be filled with a
biological agent and attached to the aircraft.
Aero L-29 Delfin
"There's no evidence of success in making it work," the
Even if Iraq were successful, the plane would have to fly
through a gauntlet of U.S. aircraft patrolling southern and
northern Iraq and then evade highly capable U.S. or Israeli
air defense systems.
Iraq is required by U.N. resolutions to destroy its
long-range missiles, but there is no ban against an unmanned
According to a report Wednesday on "The CBS Evening News,"
Iraq previously admitted that before the Gulf War it mounted
a crash program to convert a MiG 21 that could carry chemical
or biological agents in fuel tanks under its wings.
The program was interrupted by the Gulf War and all the fuel
tanks have since been accounted for by the United Nations,
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.