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Mystery aircraft photographed over Texas

quellish

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sublight is back said:
The story over at Ares. The color pic looks almost like a B2 and the B&W pic looks like a "something else"...
A number of "suspected black aircraft" have been photographer or captured on video over the years. Steve Douglass also captured something on video during the 1994 Roving Sands, for example.

There have also been other, more concrete photographs of classified aircraft taken before they were declassified. The F-117 was photographed on a number of occasions before it was declassified. TACIT BLUE was captured on film at least once. Several still classified or sensitive aircraft can be found hidden in photographs of other aircraft.

It is unfortunate that the photos published by Ares do not show the accompanying aircraft.
 

Michel Van

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Could this be Boeing Phantom Ray or the X-48B ?
 

marauder2048

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GTX said:
Nah! Must be Aurora! B)
Because Sweetman suggests laser designation as a possible role, I'm going with TR-3 Black Manta.
 

bobbymike

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marauder2048 said:
GTX said:
Nah! Must be Aurora! B)
Because Sweetman suggests laser designation as a possible role, I'm going with TR-3 Black Manta.
When the Next Generation Bomber was the 2018 Bomber wasn't there rumors that Northrup had built a NGB demonstrator/prototype?
 

quellish

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bobbymike said:
When the Next Generation Bomber was the 2018 Bomber wasn't there rumors that Northrup had built a NGB demonstrator/prototype?
Why would a super secret classified aircraft be flying over Texas during daylight?
Classified aircraft tend to stay within restricted ranges, and flight test articles rarely leave those ranges. The exceptions are flight test articles that need a *lot* of room to be tested. If you need 200 miles to make a turn you're not going to stay within NTTR.
 

Dreamfighter

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Michel Van said:
Could this be Boeing Phantom Ray or the X-48B ?

I don't think so, not a know U(C)AV. Looking at the contrails it leaves, I'd say it is at least double engined, the 4-engined B-2 leaves similar contrails (as it has 2 close TBFs at each side).


Looking at the color pic, I'd say it could be a B-2, but the black and white photo leaves a somewhat different impression, as it looks if the noseshape is somewhat more pronounced. Could be the angle and altitude though that leaves a false impression, one can't conclude too much from these fuzzy pics.
If this craft is flying at altitude, it could be a medium to large aircraft, maybe a B-2 evolution or a NGB-prototype now used for the LRS-B program.
But as there are no references shown (the accompanying aircraft, like already mentioned in the posts above), it is near impossible to make a reasonable guess about it's size. It could as good be a smaller classified manned striker as Sweetman suggests, or an unknown double engined UCAV, or something completely different like a subscale demonstrator for a BWB-airliner concept.


And as Quellish says, it flying in daylight over Texas is somewhat odd if it were a classified program.
 

CJGibson

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Any word on what type is out of shot and producing the other contrail?

Chris
 

J.A.W.

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Looks kinda like an H-P Victor, with the rear fuselage/T-tail being obscured by the jet efflux..
 

CJGibson

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JAW, you're not a retired USAF general by any chance?

Chris
 

J.A.W.

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I didn't write 'swamp gas/weather balloon' or 'clearly - its the planet Venus'..

(& its a B-2, is my bet, Chris).
 

CJGibson

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Indeed, it's just that the last person to mention a retired RAF bomber in the same sentence as a mystery aircraft was a USAF general.

I'll wait for the full-blown tyre-kicking experience.

Chris
 

flateric

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photos are quite real, but still I think that this is B-2 + game of light
 

Machdiamond

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If you look at other photos of the B-2 in the same conditions (sky, contrail, ...), the color photo looks exactly like a B-2 so why should it by anything else?
The black and white photo is showing something completely different in terms of leading edge sweep, and my guess is that it is simply a classic rolling shutter artifact. The contrail "puffs" are more or less in focus so the aircraft was moving relative to the camera from right to left. I bet Dean Muskett was holding his camera sideways.
--Luc
 

aliensporebomb

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Sure wish I could see the un-edited digital photos so I can see the EXIF data on what camera or lens was in play here.
I want to know more about the radio transmissions captured and why Douglass thinks it's manned (other than size).
Of course, flying three large classified aircraft in broad daylight over Texas is still another question.
"Hey Vern, let's take the birds up for a spin why don't we?"

OpSec either is pulling what's left of their hair out or they're "it's bound to be revealed eventually anyway".

Or it's a B-2 and rolling shutter artifact (now I read it couldn't be rolling shutter unless the camera was taking video of this thing possibly and still frames taken from video) as previously suggested.
 

Stargazer2006

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A couple of thoughts on this thing.

Possibility #1: It's really a B-2 bomber. Why then would Bill Sweetman take the risk to endanger his credibility by pretending otherwise?

Possibility #2: It's really a different bird. Unless they wanted to declassify it, I can't see why the Air Force would take such risks with a supposedly secret manned aircraft. If it flies in broad daylight for everyone to see, then it's probably a UAV of some kind being test-flown by the Air Force, NASA, or perhaps even by its manufacturer.
 

sublight is back

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Machdiamond said:
that it is simply a classic rolling shutter artifact.
--Luc
Nope. You see the two round darker spots above and to the left of the target? That is dust on a DSLR imager. This pic wasn't taken with a potato cam that has rolling shutter problems. It was taken with a DSLR that doesn't. The EXIF data was removed from the image, so I cant say for certain if it was CMOS or CCD, but Nikon uses CCD and the only time you get rolling shutter is from taking video, not stills. The B&W is a crop of a much higher res pic and not a still frame of video.

The color shot still has it's EXIF data and was taken with a Nikon D70.
 

sublight is back

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quellish said:
Why would a super secret classified aircraft be flying over Texas during daylight?
I'd ask Ted Molczan. If the flight path can be correlated to a Russian spy sat, then maybe we've just witnessed some back channel threat diplomacy. These were taken on 03/10/2014 at 16:32 central time zone. Near Amarillo Tx.
 

aliensporebomb

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sublight is back said:
Machdiamond said:
that it is simply a classic rolling shutter artifact.
--Luc
Nope. You see the two round darker spots above and to the left of the target? That is dust on a DSLR imager. This pic wasn't taken with a potato cam that has rolling shutter problems. It was taken with a DSLR that doesn't. The EXIF data was removed from the image, so I cant say for certain if it was CMOS or CCD, but Nikon uses CCD and the only time you get rolling shutter is from taking video, not stills. The B&W is a crop of a much higher res pic and not a still frame of video.

The color shot still has it's EXIF data and was taken with a Nikon D70.

I used this website:
http://regex.info/exif.cgi

Lots of interesting information regarding that color picture. The black and white, not so much.
 

FighterJock

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Whatever it is, I don't think that it is Aurora (I always thought that Aurora was a test plane) or the B-2A, going by the size I think that it could be a F-117A.
 

Stargazer2006

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FighterJock said:
going by the size I think that it could be a F-117A.
The size?? But how can you possibly make out the size of this thing from such a photo? :eek:
 

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Leaving the too fuzzy b&w photo aside, I'm pretty sure it isn't a mysterious classified aicraft but just a B-2.
(unless better photos would show up that reveal something exotic).


Maybe Mr. Sweetman is convinced there are Auroras, TSR-3s, RQ-180s, SR-72s and secret bombers flying around but I'd be already euphoric if there was just 1 of those types operational and 1 in prototype/development phase. If we could effectively add a (retired or not) classified fighter prototype (YF-24?) to the list, it would be completely awesome. Subscale remotely piloted models don't count.
 

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quellish said:
There have also been other, more concrete photographs of classified aircraft taken before they were declassified. The F-117 was photographed on a number of occasions before it was declassified. TACIT BLUE was captured on film at least once. Several still classified or sensitive aircraft can be found hidden in photographs of other aircraft.
Regarding the F-117, are you talking about the 1989 pictures that Aviation Week released or are you talking about something pre November 1988? Regarding Tacit Blue, what is the story with the video you are referencing? Is it up on YouTube or is there another site that has the story behind it?
 

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http://deepbluehorizon.blogspot.nl/2014/03/mystery-aircraft-photographed-over.html?m=1

"From: GREENE, JENNIFER D GS-07 USAF AFGSC 509 BW/PA Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:00 PM To: Sweetman, Bill Cc: COOPER, JOHNM 1st LtUSAF AFGSC 509 BW/PA; GREENE, JENNIFER D GS-07 USAF AFGSC 509 BW/PA

Subject: Aircraft sighting

Sir,

I have spoken with our schedulersand theaircraft you saw was not a B-2 on the date and time in question. Thank you!

VeryRespectfully,

Jennifer Greene Director of Community Relations 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs 509 Spirit Blvd. Suite 112 Whiteman AFB, MO 65"
 

kriseric

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They are planning to declassify a black airframe. Wait for the coming week and see.
 

bobbymike

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kriseric said:
They are planning to declassify a black airframe. Wait for the coming week and see.
In the late 70's with US/USSR relations worsening (A-stan invasion, Olympic boycott) didn't Pres. Carter talk more openly about the 'Stealth Bomber' and other advanced weapon systems in a show of resolve to national security? Is this a prelude to 'showing Russia something'?
 

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bobbymike said:
Is this a prelude to 'showing Russia something'?

But what would you show them now; a bomber? a medium-striker? an ISR-aircraft? a flying-wing airlifter?


If the spotters and co. are convinced it were 3 big, manned aircraft (it is suggested they were flying 3 miles apart probably because of the induced wakes), then I think there is a good chance it would a bomber, not a striker like the F-117 or F-15E.
If it really weren't B-2s or other known aircraft, then my guess would be on classified B-2 derivatives or NGB-prototypes being used for the LRS-B program. ISR-missions would be for the already "unveiled" unmanned RQ-180 or the yet-to-be SR-72, no?
 

bobbymike

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Dreamfighter said:
bobbymike said:
Is this a prelude to 'showing Russia something'?

But what would you show them now; a bomber? a medium-striker? an ISR-aircraft? a flying-wing airlifter?


If the spotters and co. are convinced it were 3 big,manned aircraft (it is suggested they were flying 3 miles apart probably because of the induced wakes), then I think there is a good chance it would a bomber, not a striker like the F-117 or F-15E.
If it really weren't B-2s or other known aircraft, then my guess would be on classified B-2 derivatives or NGB-prototypes being used for the LRS-B program. ISR-missions would be for the already "unveiled" unmanned RQ-180 or the yet-to-be SR-72, no?
Well to me even a roll out of NGB proclaiming exotic new VLO along with maybe a hypersonic weapon system would make 'air defene' heavy places like Russia much cause for concern IMHO.
 

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flateric said:
Jennifer Greene Director of Community Relations 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs 509 Spirit Blvd. Suite 112 Whiteman AFB, MO 65"
...but would the 509th BW/PA think to check the flying status of any of the B-2s detached to Edwards at the time? Were/are there any? The color photo looks like a B-2 to me. The B&W photo almost looks like an F-117 turning away from the camera.
 

Dreamfighter

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bobbymike said:
Well to me even a roll out of NGB proclaiming exotic new VLO along with maybe a hypersonic weapon system would make 'air defene' heavy places like Russia much cause for concern IMHO.

Indeed, if you want to show off a new aircraft to them - with the crisis in Crimea/Ukraine in mind - it would imho probably (best) be a new bomber (how exotic, I'll leave that in the middle).
In such case, it leaves us (again imho) with a B-2 derivative or a NGB-prototype/demonstrator, as LRS-B is still in early development.
But if there were a classified NGB-demonstrator, would there then be 3 of them flying? And if some NGBs were ever brought in (pre-)production in the black world, then why not continue with those but start a new LRS-B program?
 

Stargazer2006

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Excuse me gents, but where did you get the notion that the three airplanes flying at the same time were of the same type? What I understood was that the other two were escorting the one in the photo. Or did I get it wrong? Didn't see it in Sweetman's article anyway.
 

Triton

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Stargazer said:
Excuse me gents, but where did you get the notion that the three airplanes flying at the same time were of the same type? What I understood was that the other two were escorting the one in the photo. Or did I get it wrong? Didn't see it in Sweetman's article anyway.
I believe that it is a matter of interpretation, but my interpretation is that author Bill Sweetman is saying that the three aircraft flying in formation were of the same design:

The aircraft seen here was accompanied by two others. This and the fact that Steve picked up some apparently related voice traffic suggests that the aircraft is piloted: I doubt that you'd dispatch three large, classified unmanned aircraft anywhere in formation. The risk of a midair would be present, and such an event would be non-career-optimal
 

sublight is back

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According to air traffic control (whom I showed the photos to) those planes were flying in a standard loose formation for cross country travel. There is nothing out of the ordinary in their formation.
 

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Stargazer said:
Excuse me gents, but where did you get the notion that the three airplanes flying at the same time were of the same type?


From Flateric's link a few posts above;

it goes to the report by Steve Douglass about what he witnessed: They saw a 3-ship formation, but only one of the 3 aircraft manoeuvred in such a way that they could see it's planform, and that is the one shown in the photos made public.


A few quotes from that report:


"The unkown aircraft were flying between 36 and 37,000 feet and avoided flying over the Amarillo VOR staying south of it, heading almost due east."
"I know what you think - it's highly unlikely the mystery planes were squawking Mode S"
"I had to be sure that what we had captured wasn't just B-2s photographed at a weird angle"
"Then what were they? We know they were manned, we know they were big and we know they were and unlike anything that anyone has yet to admit are currently in our military inventory"
 

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I lived in Amarillo for 50 years. Towards the end was a campus cop on the old Amarillo Air Force Base. Worked many an evening and night shift and even met Douglass a few times. He impressed me as a straight shooter and is very quick to stick to the facts he's seen or heard. That area is the cross roads for unusual things headed west both high and low. I've been watching the skies and aircraft since childhood and seen things come sneeking in to Amarillo late at night I could never explain. I doubt there's trickery involved in the images.
Only a slanted cops gut feeling.

A Retired Texas Cop.
 

Stargazer2006

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Thanks folks for clearing it up.

"Manned", "big", "in formation"... NGB?
 
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