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Tactical High Altitude Penetrator

CFE

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I wanted to see if anybody had more information about the "Tactical High Altitude Penetrator" sketch that's been in the public view for several years. The earliest reference to it that I can find comes from Bill Sweetman's 1986 book "Stealth Aircraft." It's attributed to the USAF Aeronautical Systems Division c. 1980.

If THAP is an internal USAF design study, I would suspect that it was generated by people who were not aware of SENIOR TREND or any of the other active stealth programs during the time of the study.
 

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quellish

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CFE said:
I wanted to see if anybody had more information about the "Tactical High Altitude Penetrator" sketch that's been in the public view for several years. The earliest reference to it that I can find comes from Bill Sweetman's 1986 book "Stealth Aircraft." It's attributed to the USAF Aeronautical Systems Division c. 1980.

If THAP is an internal USAF design study, I would suspect that it was generated by people who were not aware of SENIOR TREND or any of the other active stealth programs during the time of the study.

Yup.
http://web.archive.org/web/20060323071004/members.macconnect.com/users/q/quellish/TR3/tr3page1.html
 

CFE

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I've seen the Zinnegrabe TR-3 page before, but there's little in the way of verifiable facts. It's not even certain that THAP was the result of a Northrop study. If I had to guess, THAP was probably studied during the mid-70's around the time of XST. It certainly predates Northrop's early ATB studies and their method of aligning the leading and trailing edges to dissipate radar returns.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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The source reference for this is:

Flight Vehicle Technology for Aerospace Systems 9th Edition, Page 40

Drawing was then in Interavia in 1981.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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If it was truly a Northrop study, then it may well have "disappeared" from public view along with any other recent flying wing work when Northrop got the ATB contract.
 

quellish

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CFE said:
I've seen the Zinnegrabe TR-3 page before, but there's little in the way of verifiable facts. It's not even certain that THAP was the result of a Northrop study. If I had to guess, THAP was probably studied during the mid-70's around the time of XST. It certainly predates Northrop's early ATB studies and their method of aligning the leading and trailing edges to dissipate radar returns.

Only one "e", please.
There is little in the way of verifable facts on THAP period. I had to do a *lot* of digging to find that single reference, and before and after that had filed a number of FOIA requests. I am now on the same page as Overscan - that THAP was more related to the ATB programs than not. It now seems very unlikely that a "TR-3" or flying THAP demonstrator ever flew, especially with SNEAKY PETE to account for so many of the eyewitness sightings at the time.
The TR-3 legend was born mostly of those sightings and the vivid imaginations of two persons who for now will remain nameless. THAP existed at least as a study. TR-3 likely did not exist at all. While there is some evidence still that there was a requirement for such an aircraft, it does not seem likely that anything was built.


If THAP was studied at the time you are suggesting it would most likely have been attached to the ASTEI programs that lead to HAVE BLUE. THAP, though, is almost identical to a TR RPV design of the same period, though manned and scaled up. It seems likely at this point that USAF created a paper THAP based on the TR work for the LO studies of the time. Knowing what is in the public domain now about signature reduction, it is actually easy to say that THAP would not have worked very well at all.
 

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for those who dont understand, Zinngrabe = Quellish

well, this project was always a mystery for me...
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Food for thought?

Top: Northrop Low Altitude Penetrator
Middle: Tactical High Altitude Penetrator
Bottom: Northrop High Altitude Penetrator

HAP intakes, exhausts, tails are all very similar to THAP.
 

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overscan (PaulMM)

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The radar plot and information in the Teledyne patent is pretty interesting. Its a three lobe design like the A-12.

"A radar return from such a target would be no more than a momentary flicker, similar to that from a bird or other insignificant object".
"Tests have shown that such an aircraft can have a radar cross section of as little as 1% of that of a conventional type of aircraft in the same performance class"
 

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Thanks for the interesting discussion up to this point, especially the contrast between THAP and the acknowledged "penetrator" designs from the early stages of SENIOR ICE. I would be surprised if there wasn't a link between the cited Teledyne-Ryan patent and the THAP schematic.

I'm not too surprised that a FOIA search turned up nothing on THAP. It seems like the standard Air Force practice is to slap "For Official Use Only" on everything. That way you can conceal it from the public without going through the hassle of making it classified. (You can tell that I have a very cynical perspective on DoD security policy.)

I also share the view that much of the TR-3 lore comes from the actual Tier-III program, but I'd be skeptical about "Sneaky Pete" making it to flight stage without some kind of photographic evidence.
 

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CFE said:
I also share the view that much of the TR-3 lore comes from the actual Tier-III program, but I'd be skeptical about "Sneaky Pete" making it to flight stage without some kind of photographic evidence.

Why? The facilities at Groom Lake exist almost exclusively to protect "sight sensitive" projects. This would include a flying dorito in the 1980s. No observer caught TACIT BLUE, SENIOR TREND, Bird of Prey, TSSAM, SENIOR PROM or any number of other known secret projects on film while the programs were covert. A lack of a photograph does not mean there is a lack of something to photograph.

I would have to check The Big Box in the Closet, but I think the reference cited above actually came from one of my FOIA requests. It was either that or many hours in a particularly restrictive library. I do have copies of the source page somewhere.
 

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quellish said:
If THAP was studied at the time you are suggesting it would most likely have been attached to the ASTEI programs that lead to HAVE BLUE.

Does it excuse quellish, but thing they are the ASTEI programs? And that relationship they have with Have Blue.
 

quellish

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rocketman said:
quellish said:
If THAP was studied at the time you are suggesting it would most likely have been attached to the ASTEI programs that lead to HAVE BLUE.

Does it excuse quellish, but thing they are the ASTEI programs? And that relationship they have with Have Blue.

Air To Surface Technology Evaluation and Integration was one of the USAF studies around 1976 that generated interest in pursuing very low RCS aircraft. ASTEI was one of the studys that lead to HAVE BLUE, it investigated the maturity of certain technologies that lead to the Air Force deciding that a low RCS aircraft may be feasible.
 

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Slightly OT, but if Sneaky Pete is truly out there, would it have retired a lot of the risk that GD and McDD encountered on the A-12 program? If Sneaky Pete/Model 100 had flown prior to the A-12 proposal, I think GD could have come up with more realistic mass estimates for what eventually became an overweight airplane.
 

quellish

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CFE said:
Slightly OT, but if Sneaky Pete is truly out there, would it have retired a lot of the risk that GD and McDD encountered on the A-12 program? If Sneaky Pete/Model 100 had flown prior to the A-12 proposal, I think GD could have come up with more realistic mass estimates for what eventually became an overweight airplane.

Doubtful. The requirements for the A-12 were a far cry from anything Sneaky Pete would have been designed for. Northrop's team had the same issues - driven by the requirements - and bowed out of the program.
 

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Matej said:
quellish said:
...especially with SNEAKY PETE to account for so many of the eyewitness sightings at the time.

It means that Sneaky Pete was build and flew?

It is very likely that a Sneaky Pete demonstrator flew, as a project of USAF Aeronautical Systems Division - which was an outsider to the DARPA VLO programs. Sneaky Pete's configuration was actually fairly mature by 1977, when the ATS/ASTEI studies were conducted (it figures prominently in a number of the studies that lead to the ATF requirements). DARPA and ASD didn't share much information, and it's not likely that ASD (with Sneaky Pete) got the level of signature reduction that HAVE BLUE did. Sneaky Pete was considered state of the art by ASD until the early 80s, but ASD did not know that had been well surpassed.

Going into the A-12 program, GD thought that the work on the Sneaky Pete concept (under COLD PIGEON/Model 100/VX-11/HAVE KEY, at various times) gave them a leg up in the stealth game. As it turns out, it didn't. GD thought they were prepared to meet aggressive signature and weight goals given their experience with Sneaky Pete, but it turned out they were unprepared. GD's team needed access to more modern tools and materials for the A-12, and didn't get them - which is part of what the A-12 lawsuits are about.

If Sneaky Pete were to become public knowledge, the lawsuit could become a lot more complicated.
 

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Very interesting, thanks. It is ironical that G.D. could not have access to data on Have Blue/F-117 but eventually got absorbed into the Lockheed company...
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
G.D. could not have access to data on Have Blue/F-117 but eventually got absorbed into the Lockheed company
Cause and effect?
 

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PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Food for thought?

Top: Northrop Low Altitude Penetrator
Middle: Tactical High Altitude Penetrator
Bottom: Northrop High Altitude Penetrator

HAP intakes, exhausts, tails are all very similar to THAP.


http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=16971


Note especially the internal metallic structure. This vehicle was part of a DoD funded low RCS vehicle study that grew out of Ryan's Mini-RPV work (the manta, model..... 262?). The low RCS study itself is on the GWU national security archive with the illustrations redacted.


THAP certainly looks like an evolution of Ryan's previous RCS reduction efforts.
 

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