Suppose on Earth there was a hidden army in Antarctica. This army is highly technologically advanced and equipped with highly advanced technology. One day, on routine patrol of the United States, one of their planes has an accident and crashes. The US government comes in and steals their technology and slowly releases it to the public. Years later when all of the United States is using the advanced technology that was stolen, then hidden army decides to invade.

During the invasion, soldiers on both sides are killed but wouldn't troops on the United States eventually pick up some of their technology and realize its suspiciously similar to their own? How would the government cover up that the technology wasn't theirs to begin with?

Edit: this situation would be as if over night the entire army of the united states was copied and used against us, in this situation they have simply too much of "our own" technology to have been stolen

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    $\begingroup$ Claim that the enemy stole the tech from you. $\endgroup$
    – Snowlockk
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ Why would the soldiers think it is unusual if the enemy has similar technology? Weren't German aircraft pretty similar to American aircraft in WWII? German tanks to American tanks? No one wonders how it is that ISIS is using assault rifles. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ It is. ISIS is using the same Toyotas Iraq army used, the same weapons etc. Also look at the building Mustang during WWII and how USA get their hands on Zero plane. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ Excuse me. This question accepted its preferred answer after one hour. What about allowing those of us who live on the other side of the planet to have a chance of answering too? It should be a small enough courtesy. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android I can't believe you prioritize your day job, sleeping, or whatever you do with your family/friends over answering these questions. This is Worldbuilding! Gods do not rest except once every 7 days!!! :-) $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 5:11

8 Answers 8

  1. "Damn those Spies stealing our technology!"
  2. "Yeah, we probably bought it from the same Japanese syndicate"
  3. "Don't ask questions son, you're in the army now"
  4. "So what?"

Ak47 and M16 is very similar yet no one asked the question who ripped off whom. Same for jets (ok we all know they all got it from Nazis on the moon).

In what the weapon would be similar? The gun goes boom and there is one end you should keep toward the enemy? Striking similarities Watson.

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    $\begingroup$ The "So what" response is the most compelling. Particularly in a war, neither side cares a whole lot about where the weapons/tech came from. The only question that matters is "are we winning the war?" Even if someone screamed "you stole this!" at the government, the instant reply is "yeah, because we knew they about them and knew they would be invading. Bet you're glad we did, aren't ya?" $\endgroup$
    – Jym
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ Nazis on the moon? Nah. All of our modern tech came from aliens and Area 51. Everybody knows that! :) $\endgroup$
    – Jym
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ That's what they want you to believe. Because where is moon really? In. The. SPAAAAACEEEEE. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ "Ak47 and M16 is very similar yet no one asked the question who ripped off whom." Are you kidding? Entirely different operating principle (direct bolt impingement vs gas piston), different receiver materials (aluminum vs steel). Please - learn something about how the two are designed. Your comment embarrasses you. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ Aluminium vs Steel translate to "it's not plastic it's ABS" - it's metal, no one care what type of metal it is in heat of the battle during a war. Operating principle? Yeah, I bet that's the thing regular grunt can distinguish without a problem. They look similar, work the same way (load the rifle, pull the trigger, make pew pew pew noise) and both are ASSAULT RIFLES. That make those two weapons similar. It's like with friggin vitamin C. Who cares if it turn left or right? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 12:24

I am going to focus this question.

I believe the question is specifically about keeping the "public" from knowing that technology was stolen from somewhere external as opposed to developed internally.

If we are talking about the Modern United States, then we can make some assumptions.

  1. The "public" refers to anyone that was not part of the top secret project that "stole" the technology.
  2. The "stolen" technology would be repackaged as "new" technology.
  3. There would be a whole chain of people related to the "new" technology: manufacturing, research, etc that would likely realize that something is wrong Since most technology is the process of iteration and can be back-traced. And this technology would not be able to be back-traced.
  4. There would be a small group who knew that the technology was stolen.

In order to maintain the secret from the "public" The government would need to either isolate these people involved in the chain of the "new" technology, or "include" them in the secret and swear them to secrecy. This would probably be the first thing to happen.

Once the "new" technology would be released to the "public" a cover story would need to be created. This cover story would need to include a lot of false evidence and constant care would need to be given to maintain the cover story in case of journalists or curious people looking into it.

Likely, that would mean that anyone getting to close to the information would need to be "removed" from the public or included in the secret and sworn to secrecy.

Assuming that all those sworn to secrecy, involved in the project, or that know about the "stolen" technology would be loyal, and that those who would not be loyal would be "dealt with". You could maintain this cover story for a long time, perhaps indefinitely.

However, once the "war" happens and the troops using the "new" technology would notice the enemy is using the same technology you would have a problem.

There are not many choices for how the enemy would have the same technology. Either they stole it, or we stole it. The only real cover story then can be that the enemy stole the "new" technology. Since it would be unreasonable to say that the enemy must have developed the same technology on their own.

In order to keep this hidden, it would mean that a policy of no prisoners would need to be maintained. Total annihilation of the enemy would be required, as well as all information and technology they had, especially manufacturing plants and scientists who would actually know the process and history of these technologies.

The government would likely need to initiate many strange policies for their soldiers - commanding them not to talk to enemies, shooting them on sight, not taking prisoners, or other actions which break Geneva Convention Rules.

In other words, by the war, the USA would become a tyrannical government with secret police, people disappearing, not adhering to universal laws, and genocidal policies. But hey, at least it would be a secret.


Just the act of stealing the technology itself would disguise it. Look at the massive efforts to steal Nazi technology after WWII. We had captured jet and rocket powered aircraft that were beyond anything we were building at the time, but no factory or tooling for them. We reverse engineered a great deal from them and then spun up multiple programs for developing a version of our own. Basically, this entailed several companies and teams being fed technical information from the captured aircraft. In one case, early experiments with jet-powered aircraft benefited from the German advances by realizing that if we swept the wings back, we could achieve much more stable flight near or at the speed of sound.

The process of "digesting" the technology would necessitate developing our own home-grown programs that we could set up tooling, factories, and supply lines for. That would necessarily mean that "stolen" technology would no longer really look like the original any more than an F-86 Sabre resembles an ME-262. (Ironically, in Korea, jet fighters we developed partly based on stolen German technology went head to head with jet fighters the Russians had developed based on stolen German technology.)

In other words, if I were the government, I wouldn't even worry about it. Stealing military technology is a long tradition that goes back to the dawn of time. (During the Cold War, the USSR made an art of it).


Why are you hiding this information in the first place?

If anything, you should hype-up just how superior the enemy is. Look at how the Bomber/Missile/Submarine/Strategic-asset-X Gap from the Cold War was used to justify massive spending. The population was terrified of Soviet super-weapons, so they were okay with spending on things like the SDI.

Instead of hiding it, propagandize the fact that you stole their technology. Make it clear that you had to steal their weapons because our own were so woefully inadequate. Blame the weak-and-cowardly political party that cut funding to weapons research. Convince your citizens to buy war bonds, or accept higher taxes to support defence spending.


For the most part, stolen and repackaged technology is necessarily different.

The problem is that armies and their development teams use different stratagems, equipment, design goals and have own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Let's say you have a prototype of a new powerful rifle. The first thing is: Can the rifle use standard ammunition of your army ? If not, then you will almost always change the caliber of the copied weapon because you won't change your complete infrastructure. Can you produce the material with the necessary strength ? If not, you must strengthen the walls (increase the weight) or lessen the amount of propellant (less penetration). Even if you have the technology, can your army pay the price ? The firing mechanism is different, the enemy had 20 years to perfect it, your team has none, but could change to a technology they have experience with. So for 100 different things your team needs to adjust the advantages to their own production and needs and the end result will be different from the original (But, as you noted, the similarities will be very conspicous).

In rare cases, the technology is so overwhelmingly good in comparision that an 1:1 copy is made. One such an example is the MiG-15 engine which was slavishly copied from Rolls Royce because the Russians simply had nothing which they could have modified. In this cases look the other answers.


Well, if you think about it, in most battles nowadays, civilians aren't around to watch. So being the all-powerful United States government, you can make up fake footage and trick the citizens into simply believing a simple lie.

More Importantly

If you think about it, this "country" that you're talking about has developed this technology long before the United States figured it out - even after crashing it would take a long, long time to figure everything out. In the meantime, the other country would easily be able to figure out newer and better technology. Also, the United States only captured 1 plane. This doesn't encompass ALL of the technology that was secretly developed.


Technology has been copied and stolen and updated time and time again. At one point there was only one country with a working atomic bomb, now there's almost ten. Jet fighters, massive bombers, battleships, aircraft carriers, tanks, rocket launchers, grenades, bullets, even simply gunpowder itself were all at once point an idea or discovery that was spread and taken by the enemy because they're all tools of war. And it doesn't matter where the tool came from as long as it does it's job of killing the enemy and protecting the soldier.

  • $\begingroup$ I would like to add before someone points it out, yes many of these things were developed by multiple nations at the same time like the atom bomb. But the point is that innovation grows from one persons idea to one nations weapon to a weapon around the world. $\endgroup$
    – Virusbomb
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 15:12

In regards to the engineers on your side that design and build the equipment (because lets face it; they would be the first to realize): a good idea would be to change all of the mathematical formulas, standards and methods regarding their design.

Sometimes a formula will hint at something other that what it actually does. An example of this would be that a formula for some plasma technology that has the form of a simple harmonic motion problem. (Plasma physics is chaotic in nature which excludes the simple harmonic oscillator)

The engineers would be convinced by this; because while they would understand that is not what happens, it is approximately what occurs for small quantities; and that it makes sense to simplify things allowing for more intuitive understanding.

Convincing the engineers in such a way, would allow them to reassure the public when asked questions about the design.

  • $\begingroup$ But how would they build it without knowing how it works? Many technologies have the potential to go very wrong if there's a small error (consider the space shuttle). $\endgroup$
    – Draconis
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 4:47
  • $\begingroup$ Easy. First consider the fact they they do know how it works: they just have a different interpretation. This interpretation is not wrong; it just hints at different meanings of the situation that will not arise if it is explored throughly. $\endgroup$
    – user400188
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 5:29

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