We’ve all reveled in the antics of anthropomorphic Drunken Predators and Party Reapers, chatting on Skynet as if it were their personal frat house. And who could forget that wayward Raven, vainly Tweeting away in a gratuitous cry for male attention? Or even her poor girlfriend, trafficked across borders and sold on eBay?
But errant drones are nothing new. If anything, they seem to have mischief built into their robotic DNA. Just witness the mayhem caused by Lockheed’s Mach-3 D-21 drone, first flown in 1964.
Many an infantryman has patrolled the streets of Iraq in search of a missing Raven; the drones go AWOL so often that US troops have spray-painted their fuselages with reward offers. But that pales in comparison to the D-21, which went astray on a secret reconnaissance mission over China’s Lop Nor nuclear test site during the height of the Cold War.
The good news was that Chinese air defense systems failed to detect the high-flying drone as it rocketed across China’s northwestern Bayingolin region. The bad news, of course, was that the D-21 overshot Lop Nor and strayed into the Soviet Union.
It was later revealed that the Tupolev bureau reverse-engineered the wreckage sometime in the 1970s. In a bizarre twist of fate, CIA agents discovered that Tupolev’s engineers had named the drone the Raven.