Atlas International Trading and the suburban Sarasota home offer an introduction into one of the most important, yet unexplored, parts of the intelligence industry. Atlas is just one member of a small web of competing companies that make up the Pentagon’s Foreign Materiel Acquisition and Exploitation program and its classified cousins. It is an unusual specialty: buying up foreign-made weaponry and selling it to various U.S. agencies so that technicians can figure out how it works.
In the aggregate, the program aims to procure every Russian or Chinese plane any adversary may, one day, fly in combat. It means getting hold of surface-to-air missiles around the world to see how to evade them, every radar ever invented so that stealth technology can stay stealthy, and every Multiple Launch Rocket System to look into how barrages of rockets might be evaded.