Iraqi WMD: You Can Hide a Lot in the Desert

Posted August 6, 2003
(All photos courtesy of MSGT T. Collins, USAF)

Though we have estimated that most of Saddam's WMD went to Syria and Iran, it is very likely that some WMD stores will be discovered buried in the desert, as this series of photos makes clear, Iraq has a lot of desert and Saddam could hide Rhode Island out there and it would not be found for years.

This Iraqi jet, an advanced Russian MiG-25 Foxbat, was found buried in the sand after an informant tipped off U.S. troops. The MiG was dug out of a massive sand dune near the Al Taqqadum airfield by U.S. Air Force recovery teams. The MiG was reportedly one of over two dozen Iraqi jets buried in the sand, like hidden treasure, waiting to be recovered at a later date.

Contrary to what some in the major media have reported, not all the jets found were from the Gulf War era.

The Russian-made MiG-25 Foxbat being recovered by U.S. Air Force troops in the photos is an advanced reconnaissance version never before seen in the West and is equipped with sophisticated electronic warfare devices. The Foxbat may also be equipped with advanced Russian- and French-made electronics that were sold to Iraq during the 1990s in violation of a U.N. ban on arms sales to Baghdad.

U.S. Air Force recovery teams had to use large earth-moving equipment to uncover the MiG, which is over 70 feet long and weighs nearly 25 tons.

The buried aircraft at Al Taqqadum were covered in camouflage netting, sealed and, in many cases, had their wings removed before being buried more than 10 feet beneath the Iraqi desert.

The discovery of the buried Iraqi jet fighters illustrates the problem faced by U.S. inspection teams searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is larger in size than California, and Saddam used the massive deserts south and west of Baghdad to hide weapons during the first Gulf war, including SCUD missiles, chemical weapons and biological warheads found by U.N. inspection teams in the early 1990s.

U.S. intelligence sources have already uncovered several mass grave burial sites in the open deserts with an estimated 100,000 dead hidden there.