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The North Sea Aurora sighting

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Abraham Gubler

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Re: Chris Gibson - the man behind North Sea Aurora sighting

flateric said:
Well, remembering Flying Dorito...that have the same trailing edge configuration...that didn't disturb Fort Worth guys so much
Yeah and look where the A-12 got... But it was designed to be a low level penetrator where the idea was that any RF would hit it from the front where the tail would be blocked by the airframe. Like the Northrop ATB low altitude penetrator.

If Quartz was to be a stealth technology demonstrator why limit it to low altitude only thanks to the planform? Would make for very limited demonstration opporunities and be counter to USAF's preferred use of stelah (medium and high altitude). None of this is logical for a 1980s advanced stealth technology demonstrator. More so for a low altitude stealth demonstrator hence my earlier suggestion that the Gibson Delta is a prototype or sub-scale Northrop low altitude penetrator.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Re: Chris Gibson - the man behind North Sea Aurora sighting

Published sources indicate that QUARTZ was a high altitude, long endurance stealthy recce platform. Its close relationship with Tier III UAV, DarkStar, Sensorcraft and NGB all indicate a high aspect ratio wing with nothing to do with the Gibson Delta.
 

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Re: Chris Gibson - the man behind North Sea Aurora sighting

it's been numerously said that Lockheed/Boeing NGB is a manned Quartz
 

quellish

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Re: Chris Gibson - the man behind North Sea Aurora sighting

Bruce Johnson said:
Yes, I suspect that the Quartz program was similar to Have Blue in scope and operation. By around 1980, Have Blue was well over, and the F-117A was in full development. Lockheed wanted to stay out front and take stealth technology to the next level. So, they proposed a flying testbed project to
Well, no. HAVE BLUE was a tech demo, not intended to be an operational aircraft. They took the Hopeless Diamond and made it into something flyable and testable. It did well enough that SENIOR TREND followed it to evolve HAVE BLUE into an operational capability.

QUARTZ was designed for specific requirements rather than being a tech demo. There were tech demos surrounding QUARTZ and the requirements it was to satisfy. TEAL CAMEO, TEAL RAIN, and several other programs were DARPA projects aimed at developing a range of technologies to enable UAV platforms like QUARTZ. There were other programs - we think - around the same time that were more closely related to QUARTZ. (the white aspects of the TEAL programs produced AMBER, CONDOR (indirectly, sort of) and the reciprocating engines to power them).

Back on topic, one reason that the Gibson sighting is associated with AURORA is that at the time that was really the only known or rumored program that would produce a shape and size like what he saw.
Even now, the only things I know of that could match something like that are an AURORA or an "A-17".
In 1989 there were a lot of things flying.... but nothing with that kind of sweep. I do not think Chris would mistake a Dorito for what he describes. There was a cruise missle program that would have looked similar, but would have been much smaller and did not likely produce anything flying.
 

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Re: Chris Gibson - the man behind North Sea Aurora sighting

Northrop's "Low-Altitude Penetrator" concept for the ATB would be a good fit for the Gibson sighting, and it would certainly explain why it would be flying with F-111's. Only problem with this explanation is whether the aircraft would match the size of Chris Gibson's mystery plane.

Were the F-117's ever deployed abroad when that program was secret? I'd think the risk and security expense of an overseas deployment would rule out the Gibson sighting as a secret US aircraft.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Re: Chris Gibson - the man behind North Sea Aurora sighting

CFE said:
Northrop's "Low-Altitude Penetrator" concept for the ATB would be a good fit for the Gibson sighting, and it would certainly explain why it would be flying with F-111's. Only problem with this explanation is whether the aircraft would match the size of Chris Gibson's mystery plane.
See earlier in this thread for pictorial sizing of the Northrop ATB LAP with the Gibson Delta.

CFE said:
Were the F-117's ever deployed abroad when that program was secret? I'd think the risk and security expense of an overseas deployment would rule out the Gibson sighting as a secret US aircraft.
As to why was a US secret plane in Europe I've made some conjecture earlier in this thread. In particular the dates of the sighting coincide with the beginning of the successful Communist rejection campaigns in East Europe. There is an argument you can make for the need for operational reconnaissance missions at this time. Non operational needs could include some kind of peculiar testing regime only available in Europe or a familiarisation campaign. See how your secret penetrator performs against British defences and give your special relationship allies a taste of something different.

Due to the context of the company: KC-135 and F-111s the Gibson Delta has to be a US aircraft. If it was British it would be flying with a Tristar and Tornados... You don't just send your top secret aircraft into the air with other countries providing IFR and tail chasers.
 

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Re: Chris Gibson - the man behind North Sea Aurora sighting

quellish said:
Even now, the only things I know of that could match something like that are an AURORA or an "A-17".
In 1989 there were a lot of things flying.... but nothing with that kind of sweep. I do not think Chris would mistake a Dorito for what he describes. There was a cruise missle program that would have looked similar, but would have been much smaller and did not likely produce anything flying.
The pictorial representations of both Aurora and "A-17" are not based on any real information, just conjecture. As I've pointed out a few times and drawn the pictures to show the Gibson Delta is a near perfect match for the planform of the Northrop ATB low altitude penetrator option (what became the B-2 was the high altitude penetrator option). This was a 'real' aircraft in the sense that the design came out of a USAF funded project and an image of it was declassified. Wether it progressed any further than a paper plane we don't know. But the Gibson sighting is a possible confirmation. That is if we can set aside the Aurora wish fulfillment.
 

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so , one more nail about to be punched into Aurora's coffin . ı am generally emotional about such stuff and can hardly challenge anything in this thread . In short , with all honesty , ı wish a hearty good luck to the effort .
 

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The Gibson planform could be a subsonic low-altitude penetrator except for one glaring issue, which is that you're going to get seen from behind and shot in the butt. The question of the rear-aspect signature (how LO you had to be from what angle) had already been crucial in the Have Blue competition, 15 years earlier. On the other hand, something that goes as fast as a lot of missiles doesn't have to worry about a rear-aspect signature.
 

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LowObservable said:
The Gibson planform could be a subsonic low-altitude penetrator except for one glaring issue, which is that you're going to get seen from behind and shot in the butt. The question of the rear-aspect signature (how LO you had to be from what angle) had already been crucial in the Have Blue competition, 15 years earlier. On the other hand, something that goes as fast as a lot of missiles doesn't have to worry about a rear-aspect signature.
I'm not applying my conjecture as to how or why Black Project aircraft were designed in the 1980s. The identity of the Gibson Delta will not be determined by what is the 'best' or whatever capability solution to fit the evidence. But rather based on forensics principles.

The planform as presented by Gibson aligns with only one actual, verifiable, real, confirmed, declassified aircraft design: the Northrop ATB low altitude penetrator bomber. Wether it was good, bad, indifferent, or whatever does not come into it. The pure delta or 'Dorito Chip' planform was the low altitude stealth state of the art of the 1980s. We have two declassified aircraft designs to confirm this (including the A-12A). They don't need to be good or effective designs, they just had to exist.

Hypersonics clearly has survivability (from speed and angels) and timeliness advantages which is why the technology is being pursued. I wouldn't be so keen on trading away LO for speed in a world where air to air lasers have been demonstrated as highly lethal. Can't outrun light.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
LowObservable said:
The Gibson planform could be a subsonic low-altitude penetrator except for one glaring issue, which is that you're going to get seen from behind and shot in the butt. The question of the rear-aspect signature (how LO you had to be from what angle) had already been crucial in the Have Blue competition, 15 years earlier. On the other hand, something that goes as fast as a lot of missiles doesn't have to worry about a rear-aspect signature.
...

The planform as presented by Gibson aligns with only one actual, verifiable, real, confirmed, declassified aircraft design: the Northrop ATB low altitude penetrator bomber. ... The pure delta or 'Dorito Chip' planform was the low altitude stealth state of the art of the 1980s. We have two declassified aircraft designs to confirm this (including the A-12A). They don't need to be good or effective designs, they just had to exist.

...
The "B-2 Systems Engineering Case Study" you are relying on, says this of the Northrop Low Altitude Penetrator (NLAP):
"See Figure 3-5, again duplicated from the original 1980 study, and shown with the low altitude concept as illustrative
of a HI-HI-LO-LO mission".

So per the above, the document calls the NLAP a "concept".

And the NLAP is not the only actual, verifiable, real, confirmed, declassified aircraft design that is a delta.
A good many hypersonic design "concepts" are also deltas along with many real supersonic and subsonic
designs - as you know.

Also the "B-2 Systems Engineering Case Study" you quoted earlier, discusses the study of low altitude
penetrators and discusses that they were inferior for the job: "Request to the RFP was issued in April 1981
to request a study for the impact on the design to include a significant low altitude penetration capability,
beyond the fallout capability from the high altitude designs. The scope of the request was to examine
completely new designs, in addition to studying a modification to proposal baseline of a high altitude cruise
design approach currently favored by each contractor and the primary Air Force user, the Strategic Air
Command (SAC)".
...
"The combined contractor/Air Force team jointly examined the trade-off between survivability, low altitude
penetration speed and altitude, and the impact on the range and cruise performance of the primary
high-altitude design point. The resultant design that emerged from this integrated systems engineering
activity was a modification to the baseline high-altitude design approach. The structure was beefed up by
about 10,000 pounds but the basic structural design approach was retained".
...
"A clean sheet analysis examined many alternatives to optimize low altitude penetration
capability (which had originally been examined in the ASPA studies), but in every case,
emphasizing the low altitude mission drastically reduced high-altitude mission range. Most of
the configurations required afterburners to meet takeoff requirements and extensive refueling to
meet the defined penetration missions. All new designs were discarded as poor candidates for an
optimized strategic bomber. The study confirmed it was most cost effective and operationally
effective to modify the high altitude design to perform the low altitude mission than to design for
only low altitude and try to extend the range by making a larger aircraft".

The above is important as it indicates the shortcomings of a low altitude penetrator. Indeed,
it also indicates that other designs besides NLAP were looked at. So if they constructed a real
NLAP, it would have been a waste of money and would have taken funds needed for the winning
design.

I still think your idea that Gibson's airplane may be NLAP is clever, but I don't agree on you're
dismissing of all other deltas as the Chris Gibson delta, based on just Fig 3.5 in the
"B-2 Systems Engineering Case Study".

Regards
 

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shockonlip said:
The above is important as it indicates the shortcomings of a low altitude penetrator. Indeed,
it also indicates that other designs besides NLAP were looked at. So if they constructed a real
NLAP, it would have been a waste of money and would have taken funds needed for the winning
design.
As to the validity of the Northrop ATB low altitude penetrator I would not be trying to suggest that the slides featured in the B-2 study are somehow a weak link. They are the actual real deal from the early days of the B-2 project. The planform for purpose is also strongly supported by the ATA A-12A aircraft as I pointed out above. These are real aircraft in the sense that someone(s) with a security clearance up the wazoo and working on the dime of the USG with access to the most advanced engineering of their time designed them to be low altitude, low RCS penetrators.

It may not be as good a concept as the other concept in those slides – that became the B-2 – but that doesn’t mean USAF wouldn’t build one. Especially if like the USN leadership at that time you were a crusty old bomber General who ‘knew’ that the only way to go downtown to Moscow was so low you were frying the chickens in their chicken coops and relying on this fancy stealth technology and ‘God forbid’ new ways of doing things was not what got those stars on your shoulders...

The idea that the US leadership at the peak of the Reagan arms build-up decided to put all their eggs in the high altitude stealth basket without investigating in more solid detail the low altitude path is actually far more unlikely than they built a secret aircraft that only Chris Gibson and his rig mate’s have seen unencumbered by a security clearance.

Further a repeat of the point I made above: there is no determining the nature of this aircraft by applying analysis of what would be the BEST aircraft. Hypersonic may be better, low altitudes may be a waste of money but it doesn’t add up to anything. There are many, many, many examples of Governments spending money badly so the ‘turkey argument’ is not strong enough to affect the forensic analysis of what the Gibson Delta was.

shockonlip said:
but I don't agree on you're dismissing of all other deltas as the Chris Gibson delta, based on just Fig 3.5 in the "B-2 Systems Engineering Case Study".
I have also used other actual verifiable evidence to support this analysis that the Gibson Delta is a low altitude penetrator. Including picking it out of a line up of ‘real’ aircraft, the nature of the chase aircraft and the altitude of the IFR that support it being a low altitude penetrator aircraft. I have even generated a plausible scenario for why it would be in the North Sea. Why on earth would the US test a black aircraft project in Europe? They have absolutely no need... If they were using it operationally and it was a high altitude hypersonic vehicle then there would be a lot more evidence by radar plots and seismic readings.

That is a few streams of real evidence compared to the completely hypothetical, hypersonic Aurora delta design. With the argument for the existence of that aircraft being conjecture of multiple disparate events linked together by hypothesis. It may have sold lots of magazines but its very weak stuff.

Sure there could be some completely different and totally secret delta aircraft produced by the USA and flown over the North Sea in August 1989. It could have even been Clint Eastwood flying the Firefox back from the Soviet Union. But testing based on actual evidence is supporting my hypothesis. If anyone has any more evidence then please present it and we can reassess.
 

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You're getting all excited.

The North Sea sighting could have been all sorts of things. Basically, though, there have been two seriously studied classes of vehicle that look like that: hypersonics and a couple of stealthy low-altitude penetrators.

As someone pointed out above, though, the slender-delta subsonic low-altitude aircraft have their own problems, like needing lots of power for take-off and not having a lot of places to put effective flight controls. The A-12, with lower sweep and higher aspect ratio, was a different kettle of fish.

The hypersonic theory was attractive at the time because something was booming Los Angeles. The existence of such a program had been reported in the NYT.

Also, think about the sequence of events that brought the story to light. It wasn't Gibson coming forward with his story and someone saying "Cor! That looks like a Mach 5 cruiser!"
 

Abraham Gubler

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LowObservable said:
You're getting all excited.
Its never a good idea to attribute emotions to someone over a text based communication forum like the internet. I'm not half as excited as you would imagine.

LowObservable said:
The North Sea sighting could have been all sorts of things. Basically, though, there have been two seriously studied classes of vehicle that look like that: hypersonics and a couple of stealthy low-altitude penetrators.
Actually in the context of the time of the sighting 1989-90 stealth planforms were just being revealed to the public (November 1988) and certainly the original Northrop ATB low and high altitude penetrator concepts were not public. So I have no problem with someone in 1989-90 thinking that the Gibson Delta could have been a hypersonic. It was probably the best fit for that time, apart from not really having any evidence, including cirumstantial, to support such a conclusion.

However things change and more information becomes available. While we haven't had the aircraft being declassified yet (like Tacit Blue, Bird of Prey, etc) it might happen one day. Also we have new evidence like the original ATB slides. This provides alternatives to the generally accepted theory that are far stronger.
 

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Has anybody actually tried a FOIA request for info on the UK-based F-111 squadrons in Aug 1989? I really doubt that would result in any new info, but it might shed some light on what those squadrons were up to during that time frame. Of course, the gaps and omissions might be more telling than the info that's available.

I'm skeptical of the Gibson sighting for a number of reasons, including the overseas deployment of a secret aircraft and the use of F-111's for escorts (unless the aircraft in question was another strike platform.) I've always thought that an F-117 would be a good fit for the Gibson aircraft, but everything I've read states that Chris Gibson denies his mystery plane was an F-117.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Actually in the context of the time of the sighting 1989-90 stealth planforms were just being revealed to the public (November 1988) and certainly the original Northrop ATB low and high altitude penetrator concepts were not public. So I have no problem with someone in 1989-90 thinking that the Gibson Delta could have been a hypersonic. It was probably the best fit for that time, apart from not really having any evidence, including cirumstantial, to support such a conclusion.
It was Sweetman who pushed the Aurora angle. His book was published in 1993, and that was what made Gibson's sighting public. Gibson himself only knows what it definitely was not, not what it was. For example, it was not an F-117 or an F-111, but he has no explanation for what it was an did not seem enthused about Sweetman's theory when I talked to him.

In 1990 people were reporting Doritos all over the Antelope Valley and all of these programs, both rumored and confirmed, were all over Aviation Week. So triangular planforms were not all that strange.

All of these aircraft have considerable logistic footprints. What units did the tanker and F-111s belong to? Where were they during the time period in question? How much fuel did the tanker dispense on that sortie?
 

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Posted by: Abraham Gubler
>As to the validity of the Northrop ATB low altitude penetrator ... They are the actual real deal from the early days of the B-2 project.

They are real concepts from the ATB program.
The Sweetman designs are real concepts from the McDD hypersonic programs.
Neither of them built - as far as we know.
You say "top people" designed the NLAP and A-12.
I say "top people" designed the McDD hypersonic stuff.
Your argument is basically, my paper airplane is better than your paper airplane.
I say, who knows what it was. Maybe we'll find out some day.
Maybe Chris was pulling our leg (I don't think that is the case however).

>The idea that the US leadership at the peak of the Reagan arms build-up decided to put all their eggs in the high altitude
> stealth basket without investigating in more solid detail the low altitude path is actually far more unlikely than they built
> a secret aircraft that only Chris Gibson and his rig mate’s have seen unencumbered by a security clearance.

You didn't read the sections of the B-2 Systems Engineering Study. It shows that low atitiude penetration WAS studied.
The high altitude design was modified in structure and in handling for gust loads for the low altitude mission.
The different low altitude designs were dropped for ATB.
There is no reason to build the NLAP for ATB.
It's in the paper.
Or look at my quotes of the applicable sections in my previous post.

>Further a repeat of the point I made above: there is no determining the nature of this aircraft by applying analysis of
>what would be the BEST aircraft. Hypersonic may be better, low altitudes may be a waste of money but it doesn’t add up
>to anything. There are many, many, many examples of Governments spending money badly so the ‘turkey argument’ is not
>strong enough to affect the forensic analysis of what the Gibson Delta was.

True, governments have done that, but they have also not done that.
So you don't know which is the case here.
So you are picking one that you like.
It is an assumption that what you suggest is true.

>I have also used other actual verifiable evidence to support this analysis that the Gibson Delta is a low altitude penetrator.
>Including picking it out of a line up of ‘real’ aircraft,

You mean the NLAP "concept" (ie: paper airplane) and the A-12 (whose planform is also fatter than what Gibson
claims to have seen).
Your NLAP drawing planforms look fatter and different from what Gibson reports seeing.
Flateric quoted him accurately in the first post of this thread: "My first thought was that it was another F-111, but there
was no "gaps", it was too long and it didn't look like one ...".

>the nature of the chase aircraft and the altitude of the IFR that support it being a low altitude penetrator aircraft.

Again, an assumption that the missions of the chase and the unknown aircraft are the same.
Other reasons for the F-111s being there:
- "plausible deniability" that the unknown is actually an F-111
- Needed "plausible deniability" as well as a radar return from another aircraft.
- the unknown was in trouble and it needed a cover ASAP!

>I have even generated a plausible scenario for why it would be in the North Sea.
>Why on earth would the US test a black aircraft project in Europe? They have absolutely no need...

It may be plausible, but it is unlikely.
I don't consider that a prototype being flown on an operation mission over Europe as probable.
I say unlikely - not sure how much weight at convincing that should have. I grade it as low.
At least for me of coarse.

>If they were using it operationally and it was a high altitude hypersonic vehicle then there would be a
>lot more evidence by radar plots and seismic readings.

Over the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration controls the airspace up to and including 60,000 feet
mean sea level (Class A airspace). In Europe, I don't know what the rule is. The question is how many
civilian radars can display returns above whatever those limits are?

As far as seismic sensors are concerned, to a seismic sensor an N-wave is an N-wave.
And we know that seismic sensors seem to do allright with more mundane supersonic aircraft
flying about at lower altitudes, where supersonic flight is allowed. And there may be no
seismic sensors where these airplanes put out detectable signatures. I would suspect
that is also part of mission planning - whether hypersonic or just supersonic.

>That is a few streams of real evidence compared to the completely hypothetical, hypersonic Aurora delta design.

Again, NLAP is a concept, hypersonic aircraft are officially conceptual. Could have been a different kind
of delta shaped aircraft though. Are you suggesting that a delta shaped hypersonic aircraft is not possible?

>With the argument for the existence of that aircraft being conjecture of multiple disparate events linked together
>by hypothesis. It may have sold lots of magazines but its very weak stuff.

But there were things going on then, that pointed in that direction.
Let me re-create the environment for you:

There was the "Procurement Programs (P-1); Department of Defense Budget For Fiscal Year 1986;
dated February 4, 1985" that was published, that began the whole "Aurora" thing.

An early 1988 New York Times cover story, quoted an inside source that we (the US) are developing
a Mach 5 SR-71 successor. In this piece the NY Times source indicated that the USAF had been
working on this capability for some time. There was the fascinating quote from that piece:
"with the SR-71 they knew we were there but couldn't touch us, with the new technology, they
won't even know we're there".

There was an SR-71 successor story later in 1988 in AW&ST that echoed that proposals were being sought.

There was the 11/88 Popular Science "Aurora" cover story.

An aerospace professional who lives in the Mojave, was awakened several times,
on different nights, from 2-3am, in August 1989, by what AW&ST eventually called the "pulser",
in its 12/18/89 issue. The aerospace professional went to AW&ST with these incidents to report
them.

The Gibson sighting was on 24 Aug, 1989.

In the first quarter of 1990, Mr. D.C Card a retired mining engineer coined the "doughnuts on a rope"
term to describe the high speed high altitude aircraft he saw overtake lower commercial aircraft
traffic over his home near Denver Colorado.

In early 1990, there were announcements that the SR-71 was retiring.

So who knows what all the above was caused by. But it does describe what was going on back then
in 1989 and early 1990.

Also recall the stealth fighter crash in 1986 that woke many of us up to secret aircraft flying around
being a reality.

>But testing based on actual evidence is supporting my hypothesis. If anyone has any more evidence
>then please present it and we can reassess.

I see your evidence as saying that a NLAP could be produced (at best - even though there are also
indications in the same publication that you use for evidence that it was not selected for ATB because
that was not the target for ATB mission (high altitude was) and it was inferior at the ATB mission as
ATB high altitude was eventually modified to also do low altitude.

You're also saying, well just ignore that as governments will build anything. I pointed out that they also
do the right thing. You are picking the response that you like. I would not use that as an argument.

I don't know what Gibson saw, but I leave it open to a large range of possibilities, not just one.

Regards
 

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I think this discussion is about done. ::)
 

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I tend to agree with Overscan. There is only so much evidence, and all of it has been presented.
 

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for me, flight tests timeframe for Tacit Blue and BoP, and time that passed till they were declassified, is a kind of a proof that much more advanced - and flown - projects from the past are still under wraps
 

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Exactly. Just like the supposed USAF mission to bomb a laser in Siberia using a modified B-52 in Dec 1988. :p
 

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Sary-Shagan is not in Siberia, pal;)
 

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>There is only so much evidence, and all of it has been presented.

During this time I did some research work for Bill Scott. As such, I was privy
to some of the better incident reports.

I don't think that all the incidents reported by aerospace professionals to AW&ST
were published because peoples names couldn't be used because of their professional
positions. Some may have been alluded to indirectly, but I can't recall if all of them
have been. It may be useful to have all of these in one place. Also, they probably
could use some more investigation. A few also came to the moderators of the skunk.works
mail-list at the time. Can't recall if they got published by the mail-list mod for those
individuals.

I suspect Bill Sweetman may have some of these as well, but not sure.

Anyway, I tried to add a little of this to my last post, but I guess it wasn't appreciated.

We shouldn't be at war with each other over this.

Perhaps we just don't care anymore.
Perhaps the UFO guys should take this over.

I'm done on this topic for now.
 

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flateric said:
for me, flight tests timeframe for Tacit Blue and BoP, and time that passed till they were declassified, is a kind of a proof that much more advanced - and flown - projects from the past are still under wraps
If you Google Earth Area 51 there appears to be a lot of evidence of significant activity we haven't heard a peep of.
 

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sferrin said:
flateric said:
for me, flight tests timeframe for Tacit Blue and BoP, and time that passed till they were declassified, is a kind of a proof that much more advanced - and flown - projects from the past are still under wraps
If you Google Earth Area 51 there appears to be a lot of evidence of significant activity we haven't heard a peep of.
Not only at DET 3, but at other facilities as well. Contractors have significantly upgraded their testing capabilities since the early 1990s. The Air Force and DARPA have upgraded and expanded their facilities, and even more so the Navy.

Since TACIT BLUE was brought out of the black, The Air Force has only (as far as I can recall) declassified CONSTANT PEG and its predecessors. The other programs which have been brought to light have been contractor run efforts like Bird of Prey. This is partially because the 1990s had a lot of programs which were initiated by the contrators to get a leg up on the competition rather than meet an AF or DARPA requirement. To some extent this was fallout from some of the very expensive programs of the late 80s/early 90s and to some extent a reflection of the budget environment of the 1990s.
Missions and priorities changed quite a bit. The Strategic Relocatable Targets mission, for example, disappeared and reappeared several times. It was a hot topic in the 80s, finding mobile ICBMs for B-2s to hit, and then later TBM TELs. Today the Global Strike programs still need to get their targets from somewhere. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Nonetheless, during the 80s and 90s there was a lot of money spent, and a lot of activity. Some of this is easily tracked, some not. There were periods where there was a lot of flight hardware being produced and flown, and other times where the DREAMLAND tower was almost abandoned.

What fascinates me though is that right now we, the watchmen, have more resources and capabilities available to us than ever. Yet we are still taking guesses.
 

RavenOne

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There was something in Bill Sweetman's Aurora book (pub by Motorbooks) and has been mentioned around, the reporting by an RAF ATCO at RAF Leuchars, of something going fast on his scope ...at Mach 3, possibly airborne from Machrihanish around that time. Picks up the phone and calls higher authority, only to be told to forget what he saw and never mention it agaon.


Is there any proof of the above?


Also F1-11 wise, that was what was based at Lakenheath and Upper Heyford at the time...but would the crews of the 48th and 20th TFW have high enough security clearance to ride shotgun for something that classified unless it was the Wing CO and DO or both base COs? I would have thought some F-15C would be sufficient for escort duties...


However I have seen a graphical illustration of CG's description in some aviation publication....and the supposed KC-135 refueling said triangle...is actually an NKC-135 like what the then Air Force uses at Edwards. Its the nose that gives it away, unless said artist gets carried away and figures drawing a test C-135 might add some flavor?


Cheers
 

aliensporebomb

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There was another report (and sadly because these were all Hennepin County Library issues of AW&ST I don't have the exact text) of someone who saw a light travel from horizon to horizon in under a minute that was not a satellite in California and if I remember right may have had visible navigation lights (does anyone have some of these incident reports? Nobody actually ever seems to put the actual report online, just that someone saw something and sent a letter to AW&ST).


Other reports of a fast flown manned craft I'm aware of:


Then there was the fast flyer manned "ASTRID" craft that reported in to WSMR via radio spotted by Steve Douglass, others and a Discovery Network crew after a red hat exercise after a U2 and an SR-71 passed overhead.


And the fastmover departing groom in 1999 spotted by Meinrad Eberle and two other swiss nationals that took off in broad daylight on a weekend morning with transmissions indicating two of them were aloft.


The aforementioned Douglass "Gaspipe" transmissions. I'm sure there are more.


Oh the "Hunting the Fastmovers" post by a guy called 2495 on MilitaryPhotos.net that now doesn't exist and may have been complete b.s.


I'm sure there are others but I've been waiting 20 years, I'm sure we can wait a few more. It sure seems likely some one offs were built and test flown.
 

CJGibson

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Difficult in a place with a ban on non-Ex rated electronic equipment such as cameras.

Chris

PS No I didn't have an M3.
 

XP67_Moonbat

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Oh I hear ya on that, Chris. Yours was a unique situation. My response was to some of the other "sightings" listed by Alien.
 

Abraham Gubler

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XP67_Moonbat said:
Oh I hear ya on that, Chris. Yours was a unique situation. My response was to some of the other "sightings" listed by Alien.

Yes. I think we can all take the following for as good as a clear and unambiguous photo. Of course what it is remains to be seen. Surely the North Sea is, despite the name, too far south for Aurora Borealis?
 

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LowObservable

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Northern Lights can be seen in the northern tier of the U.S., farther south than Paris.
 

aliensporebomb

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Weirdly, I recently saw online a supposed line drawing of "q" and it wasn't at all like the North Sea Aurora if the line drawing was to be believed: I googled current military drone aircraft and it didn't look like anything here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UAVs_in_the_U.S._military nor did it look like the "beast of kandahar". It may have been someones fanciful idea of what that craft should look like. If so, their imagination made it seem ungainly and awkward rather than sleek and fast but maybe that was not the purpose. Rectangular U2 like wings with a blobular pod for the body basically.

And yes, northern lights are easily photographable in the northern u.s. if you have a DSLR, it's an interest of mine if anyone and I've done dozens of time lapse videos of the aurora borealis - if anyone wants to discuss it we can start a separate thread in the bar or the like.
 

Stargazer2006

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aliensporebomb said:
Weirdly, I recently saw online a supposed line drawing of "q" and it wasn't at all like the North Sea Aurora if the line drawing was to be believed
Do you have a link to that line drawing? Or a copy of it to attach?
Your description immediately brought to my mind the old Lockheed Tier 3 contender.
 

Archibald

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Never bothered to read that thread in 10 years. Silly me. I heard of the sighting, but did not took it seriously, because of the Aurora siliness attached to it.
What is suggested in this thread makes some sense. My bet would be, a A-12 demonstrator, kind of Have Blue to F-117. Also agree with the fact that mach 3 + hypersonic aircrafts would not be trailing a KC-135 at low altitude. As for the F-111, their mission was close from the A-12, so maybe they were there for comparison - for example, to try a low level dash at Mach 0.95 with strike stuff and sensors.
 

quellish

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Skyblazer said:
Your description immediately brought to my mind the old Lockheed Tier 3 contender.
I would assume that is what it is considering he is calling it "Q".

"Q"/QUARTZ was AARS, which was large, subsonic, and not at all like the shape (or size) described by Chris Gibson.
 

marauder2048

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A typical red flag is a large time gap between an alleged sighting and the reporting of the sighting.

The explanation given here was that Gibson felt bound by the Official Secrets Act (1911) until he didn't.

I have a few problems with this:

a. Feeling bound would be the most expansive interpretation of the 1911 Act in the history of British jurisprudence.

b. Neither the second witness, Graeme, nor anyone else on the rig was bound by the Act.

c. The Official Secrets Act 1911 was essentially dead during this period as result of court rulings which resulted in:

d. The Official Secrets Act 1989 which did not come into force until March 1990; in the interim there were several articles, books
and other publications of actual official secrets that were rushed into print in order to beat the March 1990 deadline.
 

CJGibson

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...and your point is?

Chris
 
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