Mysterious Aircraft Spotted At Area 51

rooster

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1. Even if it is light transparent doesn‘t mean you can take picture from it. I bet you will be not able to recognize anything outside that is more than 50m.
2. Hangar block view to the south from temp hangar - so you are not able to see what is landing or starting.
3. It is most remote location in Area51 with access to the runway and concrete pad. I do not see any better place to put broken Draken for repair. Main complex is screened with closed entry, other side protected by another hangar. Also hangar make sense as you can deliver repair crew inside temp structure. They just see what they need and nothing more.
Tarps are very cheap compared too what is spent at that base. If you're going too hide a capability then you're not going camouflage it with a greenhouse where the enemy can see the size, shape and planform. Remember the Russians figured out the a12 from its heat shadows from the pole model cast onto the sand? the greenhouse isn't even fogged glass..... The number if things wrong with this whole entire scenario is like 100 things wrong to 1 thing even remotely right.

I can imagine 40 years ago when the f117'was coming on line... "Hey guys lets hide them under a transparent greenhouse when the sats pass over."
 

Hanz2k

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Rooster: „Tarps are very cheap compared too what is spent at that base. If you're going too hide a capability then you're not going camouflage it with a greenhouse where the enemy can see the size, shape and planform.“

Thank you. Using Ockham razor this means that what we see is nothing fancy or secret.

As I stated. This temporary structure was used to isolate repair crew from outside view. Not protect asset. Is this was some secret asset it’s for sure have free place in its hangar and the base has means to protect and transport anything into secure location in a matter of minutes.
 

Rolead

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I am out of my depth here but if the Draken has a civilian registration would there be a flight plan logged with the FAA for it.

Robert
 

Hood

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Ok so its a 50 year old Draken in a ClearSpan hangar being erected. It's hardly the most newsworthy event in the history of aviation.
Shame The Drive didn't twig that and save itself the effort of putting out a clickbait article.
 

xstatic3000

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Ok so its a 50 year old Draken in a ClearSpan hangar being erected. It's hardly the most newsworthy event in the history of aviation.
Shame The Drive didn't twig that and save itself the effort of putting out a clickbait article.

I definitely understand why The Drive with the story. The article currently has over 400 comments, so I'm guessing there have been more views/impressions than most other articles they have published recently. Articles like this create a huge amount of excitement, and as we can see with how active this thread has been, people come out of the woodwork when something like this is posted since we all truly want to see something new.

That's why people shoot down likely scenarios in favor of "It's an XF-95 Hypersonic VTOL SSTO Interceptor, left outside in a clear bubble to send a message".
 

sferrin

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Ok so its a 50 year old Draken in a ClearSpan hangar being erected. It's hardly the most newsworthy event in the history of aviation.
Shame The Drive didn't twig that and save itself the effort of putting out a clickbait article.
The Drive not put out a clickbait article? They'd have to shut down.
 

RavenOne

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I can't think of a single reason what a '70's Draken would do on the USAF most secure and secret location.
Draken a 70's old fighter you see in museum.

Just to note, despite being old Drakens are in some ways more agile than any USAF fighter. Because of this, they were commonly used in aggressor squadrons to simulate Russian/Chinese light fighters, which shared some of it's qualities.

I agree, it’s clear Drakens were active in the NTTR, and maybe still are. But I would be very, very surprised if an ancient Draken, certainly a privately owned one, would be at Groom Lake. It just wouldn’t make sense.

My explanation for that is that they wanted to test something new against it.

Not in sevice with UsAf/UsN/USMC i am aware of, you mut be confusing with the IAI F-21 Kfir used by VMFAT-401 'Snipers' and now commercially used by ATAC USA

cheers
 

xstatic3000

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I can't think of a single reason what a '70's Draken would do on the USAF most secure and secret location.
Draken a 70's old fighter you see in museum.

Just to note, despite being old Drakens are in some ways more agile than any USAF fighter. Because of this, they were commonly used in aggressor squadrons to simulate Russian/Chinese light fighters, which shared some of it's qualities.

I agree, it’s clear Drakens were active in the NTTR, and maybe still are. But I would be very, very surprised if an ancient Draken, certainly a privately owned one, would be at Groom Lake. It just wouldn’t make sense.

My explanation for that is that they wanted to test something new against it.

Not in sevice with UsAf/UsN/USMC i am aware of, you mut be confusing with the IAI F-21 Kfir used by VMFAT-401 'Snipers' and now commercially used by ATAC USA

cheers
ATAC has Kfirs and Mirage F1s, and Draken International and Top Gun have acquired a number of F16s over the past few years. I'm thinking that a smaller contractor either acquired one of the ex-Draken International birds, or one of the others that were up for sale a few years back. I don't have data on all of the recent Draken sales, but I don't think any of them went for more than $500k. Definitely a lot of bang for the buck.
 

Empire

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HI ALL,

I know this is a long shot but can the VISTA x-plane be connected to the mystery jet at area 51. The image outline painted on the tail of the VISTA jet looks very familiar. Or just a coincidence. Or is that outline used commonly for F-16's? I'm not saying the F-16 is the mystery jet at area 51 just that VISTA is testing tech for that program.

The U.S. Air Force has redesignated its NF-16D Variable-stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft, or VISTA, as the X-62A. This new X-plane nomenclature, something typically applied to purely experimental aircraft and other aerospace vehicles, is meant to better reflect this aircraft's current role as a multi-purpose test platform as the service prepares to make new modifications to it so that it can support the Skyborg program. Skyborg is focused on developing a suite of artificial intelligence-driven technologies and associated systems that will together form a "computer brain" able to fly "loyal wingman" type drones and potentially migrate to other designs, including fully autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs.
 

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archipeppe

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HI ALL,

I know this is a long shot but can the VISTA x-plane be connected to the mystery jet at area 51. The image outline on the tail of the VISTA jet looks very familiar. Or just a coincidence. Or is that outline used commonly for F-16's? I'm not saying the F-16 is the mystery jet at area 51 just that VISTA is testing tech for that program.

The U.S. Air Force has redesignated its NF-16D Variable-stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft, or VISTA, as the X-62A. This new X-plane nomenclature, something typically applied to purely experimental aircraft and other aerospace vehicles, is meant to better reflect this aircraft's current role as a multi-purpose test platform as the service prepares to make new modifications to it so that it can support the Skyborg program. Skyborg is focused on developing a suite of artificial intelligence-driven technologies and associated systems that will together form a "computer brain" able to fly "loyal wingman" type drones and potentially migrate to other designs, including fully autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs.
Nope, the wing planform is completely different from the F-16/X-62 VISTA, let alone the fact that the X-62 is based at Edwards AFB.
 

Empire

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HI ALL,

I know this is a long shot but can the VISTA x-plane be connected to the mystery jet at area 51. The image outline on the tail of the VISTA jet looks very familiar. Or just a coincidence. Or is that outline used commonly for F-16's? I'm not saying the F-16 is the mystery jet at area 51 just that VISTA is testing tech for that program.

The U.S. Air Force has redesignated its NF-16D Variable-stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft, or VISTA, as the X-62A. This new X-plane nomenclature, something typically applied to purely experimental aircraft and other aerospace vehicles, is meant to better reflect this aircraft's current role as a multi-purpose test platform as the service prepares to make new modifications to it so that it can support the Skyborg program. Skyborg is focused on developing a suite of artificial intelligence-driven technologies and associated systems that will together form a "computer brain" able to fly "loyal wingman" type drones and potentially migrate to other designs, including fully autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs.
Nope, the wing planform is completely different from the F-16/X-62 VISTA, let alone the fact that the X-62 is based at Edwards AFB.
I'm not saying the VISTA F-16 is the jet at Area 51 just that its testing tech for the same program. The outline painted on the F-16 tail looks just like the mystery jet at Area 51. There is the mystery outline with what appears to be a satellite over it on the VISTA f-16 tail. Now a Edwards based VISTA could easily up link to a Satellite and connect with an Area 51 classified air frame. PS just my speculation!!
 
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Crusty

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Good grief, folks. It's not transparent, it's just a partially erected shell
Dont be silly, you can actually see the undulations i the fabric where its draped along the whole length of the structure.
 

sublight_

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This sat picture looks like a dead horse to me. I dont know why people keep flogging that dead horse.
 

quellish

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This sat picture looks like a dead horse to me. I dont know why people keep flogging that dead horse.
In fact nobody know what it is ...

We know what it is. That picture is a Rorschach test.

The author sees an NGAD, or a spaceplane
Others see a transparent tent with an image printing on it, as a deception
I see an inkblot. There is not enough information in that picture to draw any conclusions.
 

quellish

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Dont be silly, you can actually see the undulations i the fabric where its draped along the whole length of the structure.

Unless those "undulations" are several meters in size, no, you do not. That image can't possibly contain that information. 1-3m spatial resolution, viewed at an unknown angle, with an unknown sun angle, etc.
 

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Crusty

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Dont be silly, you can actually see the undulations i the fabric where its draped along the whole length of the structure.

Unless those "undulations" are several meters in size, no, you do not. That image can't possibly contain that information. 1-3m spatial resolution, viewed at an unknown angle, with an unknown sun angle, etc.
What?, its not an unknown sun angle, there are shadows that tell you the angle.
Are you seriously saying you cant see the characteristic form of fabric drapped over a skeletal structure?, they are in plain sight.
As for resolution, there is plenty of resolved detail in that shot that is actually smaller than than the obvious sags and dips in the fabric.
 

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Its not a Draken... Its a faken. Some people won't be happy unless everyone believes its Lanni's yf24.
 

quellish

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As for resolution, there is plenty of resolved detail in that shot that is actually smaller than than the obvious sags and dips in the fabric.

No, there is not The original image was - at best - 1m resolution. For you to be able to see "sags and dips" in the fabric they would have to be improbably large to be discernable. Each pixel in the image is 1m or more square. To see any kind of curve, dip, etc. the feature would have to be several square meters.

The author chose to "enhance" the image. That attempted to add information where there was none in the original. It just adds more fuel to the reader's imagination, not more detail.
 

Q-nimbus

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Good grief, folks. It's not transparent, it's just a partially erected shell
Dont be silly, you can actually see the undulations i the fabric where its draped along the whole length of the structure.
I think the one thing that we can rightly analyze from this picture is that there is no fabric cover, because if there was the taxilines on the ground and on the fabric would be offset.

As for what it was, I’m still not sure. Are there any reports of Drakens operating in the ranges these past few weeks? That would surely clear a few things up.
 

dark sidius

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There is no Draken flying in any Air force , there is no Draken flying in Draken International fleet. Instead of aero meeting or museum.
 

BAROBA

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As for resolution, there is plenty of resolved detail in that shot that is actually smaller than than the obvious sags and dips in the fabric.

No, there is not The original image was - at best - 1m resolution. For you to be able to see "sags and dips" in the fabric they would have to be improbably large to be discernable. Each pixel in the image is 1m or more square. To see any kind of curve, dip, etc. the feature would have to be several square meters.

The author chose to "enhance" the image. That attempted to add information where there was none in the original. It just adds more fuel to the reader's imagination, not more detail.
I fully agree with quellish on this one.

Repeating myself here :
If this is a part of the largest possible image they found, then that plane is made up out of 13 x 14 pixels....
How small is 13x14 pixels? About the size of this smiley-face ...:)
I don't know about you guys, but if you try to blow up 13x14 pixels into something bigger, well "mistakes"* in the software and noise will be blown-up too. Suddenly a new row of pixels becomes a double delta, half a pixel becomes a wingtip that bends upwards...
I have enhanced the picture in Photoshop with a Neural network-plugin called Superzoom. The result was nowhere near what they got... Not really a surprise, because that kind of details can not be found in such a small image. Something with physics and math..
Anyone can download that photo and zoom in on it until something becomes visible.
 

dark sidius

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As for resolution, there is plenty of resolved detail in that shot that is actually smaller than than the obvious sags and dips in the fabric.

No, there is not The original image was - at best - 1m resolution. For you to be able to see "sags and dips" in the fabric they would have to be improbably large to be discernable. Each pixel in the image is 1m or more square. To see any kind of curve, dip, etc. the feature would have to be several square meters.

The author chose to "enhance" the image. That attempted to add information where there was none in the original. It just adds more fuel to the reader's imagination, not more detail.
I fully agree with quellish on this one.

Repeating myself here :
If this is a part of the largest possible image they found, then that plane is made up out of 13 x 14 pixels....
How small is 13x14 pixels? About the size of this smiley-face ...:)
I don't know about you guys, but if you try to blow up 13x14 pixels into something bigger, well "mistakes"* in the software and noise will be blown-up too. Suddenly a new row of pixels becomes a double delta, half a pixel becomes a wingtip that bends upwards...
I have enhanced the picture in Photoshop with a Neural network-plugin called Superzoom. The result was nowhere near what they got... Not really a surprise, because that kind of details can not be found in such a small image. Something with physics and math..
Anyone can download that photo and zoom in on it until something becomes visible.
You are right we can't see detail , but we can see a general shape without enhancement
 

RavenOne

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There is no Draken flying in any Air force , there is no Draken flying in Draken International fleet. Instead of aero meeting or museum.

Swedish Air Force Museum / Heritage Flight does…my Photos from RAF Waddington Air Show 2014 Including the worlds inlay airworthy Saab Viggen.

saw them again at RAF Scampton Air Show in 2017.

Cheers
 

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Orionblamblam

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In a doubtless vain attempt at adding value, I compared the sat photo from the original Drive article to the Google Maps sat photo of the same spot at Area 51. The Google Maps version had the advantage of having a 100-foot scale bar. Fortunately, with a smidgen of rotating and resizing, the two layouts match up pretty well. I rotated the result so that the aircraft is *more* *or* *less* oriented left and right, and stuck the 100-foot scale bar on it. The aircraft scales out to very approximately 53 feet long, wingspan very approximately 44 feet. The Draken is 51 by 31 feet. Due to the blurriness of the image and the issue of shadows, both the length and the span could be off by a good amount, but the span sure seems to be substantially greater than for the Draken.

Feel free to critique.

area51drakenmaybe.png
 

quellish

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In a doubtless vain attempt at adding value, I compared the sat photo from the original Drive article to the Google Maps sat photo of the same spot at Area 51. The Google Maps version had the advantage of having a 100-foot scale bar. Fortunately, with a smidgen of rotating and resizing, the two layouts match up pretty well. I rotated the result so that the aircraft is *more* *or* *less* oriented left and right, and stuck the 100-foot scale bar on it. The aircraft scales out to very approximately 53 feet long, wingspan very approximately 44 feet. The Draken is 51 by 31 feet. Due to the blurriness of the image and the issue of shadows, both the length and the span could be off by a good amount, but the span sure seems to be substantially greater than for the Draken.

Feel free to critique.

View attachment 674813
I would be very cautious about using these measurements.
Satellite photos include distortions that are typically corrected. The satellite's angle to the target (nadir/off-nadir), terrain effects, sun angle, inclination, etc. produce effects that have to be corrected to make a useful image. And with ~1m resolution images measuring uncorrected images the size of an aircraft can produce inaccurate, inconsistent results.

The image from The Drivel very obviously was not corrected.
The Google Maps / Google Earth image *was* corrected. Google's data for doing the corrections is not great but they do it on a very large scale. They use data like low resolution USGS DEMS for some of the corrections (Planet does as well for some of their products), which leads to noticeable inaccuracy/inconsistency.

If you imagine that someone has obtained a high resolution image, that has corrections applied, you may also imagine that The Drivel image is distorted along both the width and length of the image, and the distortion seems to be in line with the orbital inclination of the satellite that took the photo.

https://www.intermap.com/blog/orthorectification-in-a-nutshell

 
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Orionblamblam

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I would be very cautious about using these measurements.

Sure. That's why I added a plethora of weasel-words to my description. However, note that the taxiway lines up quite well in the Drive image plastered over the Google image, indicating that the views are at least fairly close to the same angle. *Fairly* close. Which, given the vagueness of the dinky little image, is about the best that can be hoped for.

Vagueness on top of hand-waviness on top of estimation on top of assumption... precision is not assured. However, if nothing else this *seems* to show that the Mystery Aircraft is at least fighter-sized, not bomber, not UAV.
 

dark sidius

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In a doubtless vain attempt at adding value, I compared the sat photo from the original Drive article to the Google Maps sat photo of the same spot at Area 51. The Google Maps version had the advantage of having a 100-foot scale bar. Fortunately, with a smidgen of rotating and resizing, the two layouts match up pretty well. I rotated the result so that the aircraft is *more* *or* *less* oriented left and right, and stuck the 100-foot scale bar on it. The aircraft scales out to very approximately 53 feet long, wingspan very approximately 44 feet. The Draken is 51 by 31 feet. Due to the blurriness of the image and the issue of shadows, both the length and the span could be off by a good amount, but the span sure seems to be substantially greater than for the Draken.

Feel free to critique.

View attachment 674813
Very good job, sure the size does'not match the Draken and there is Saab Draken in airshow display, but not in active Air Force or International Draken company, so it could not be a Draken on the ramp, what it is? still don't know, but with a fighter size, may be Ucav or new demonstrator. I compare a lot of planform and there is something who have a shape a litlle like that https://www.space.com/boeing-withdraws-darpa-military-space-plane.html I don't say it is , but the shape of the wings are little similar.
 

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I imagine we will see all kinds of jets from the world to see what signatures they create, what chatter they cause...or maybe this aviation version of Jesse James' Monster Garage just needed a new hobby :) it was likely more buttoned down when it was all dirt.
 

Hanz2k

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The other non-black world delta wing option is Typhoon FGR4. They were in Red Flag 22.
 

Q-nimbus

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6 weeks on. Anyone with a Flightaware Pro account? Anyone who has seen a Draken flying around recently?

Because if a Draken has been flying around recently, especially around the ranges, that would make it very, very unlikely that what we saw was an exotic aircraft or UAV.
 

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