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The North Sea Aurora sighting

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marauder2048

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Like the similarly implausible explanation as to why it wasn't reported through channels at the time,
it looks like a plot device suggested by an editor to make the story work.
 

LowObservable

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What "channels"? Cold-calling a publishing office in 1989 was at best a chancy exercise. There were several links, some of them quite improbable, in the chain that brought the North Sea sighting to the light of day.

And the world of 1992 was not the world of 1989. Also, in Cold War days, people who had signed the Act took it very seriously indeed, and just because the Crown had screwed up the A-B-C case did not mean that the beast was dead.
 

Arjen

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With the way the UK government reacted to Peter Wright's Spycatcher and the Zircon Affair of the eighties freshly in mind, I can understand why anybody with information about secret military hardware would hesitate to find out to what uses the Official Secrets Act could be stretched.
 

CJGibson

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Arjen said:
With the way the UK government reacted to Peter Wright's Spycatcher and the Zircon Affair of the eighties freshly in mind, I can understand why anybody with information about secret military hardware would hesitate to find out to what uses the Official Secrets Act could be stretched.
My case rests.

Chris
 

Hood

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Agreed, during the 1980s the Government was zealous in exercising its rights under the Act, ironically having exactly the opposite effect in limiting exposure.
Even as a minor clerk for a government agency a decade ago I had to sign the Act, so its use has not diminished. Its no wonder that anyone actively employed in the services and civil service took that seriously and still do.

The Government takes its secrecy very seriously. For example, the RAF involvement with the U-2. Barely anything has been released at Kew or shows signs of being so, despite the recent CIA declassifications. None of the pilots have come forward, and nothing has been known other than what the CIA histories reveal. An the involvement seems to be pretty much nothing other than London hanging in there for the capability and sending pilots for conversion and doing check flights for 20 years. The fact the Americans had offered Britain F-117s or what 'Project Moonflower' was unknown until 2016. F-117 visits to UK USAF bases while still a classified programme have never been confirmed. Events like the Boscombe Down crash in 1997 remain fully shrouded. So the Government has proved capable of keeping its involvements with US technology secret.

That Chris saw some kind of stealth aircraft (and not Aurora - that was simply the hype of the period) I do not dispute.
Was it a demonstrator? Perhaps, but then would it have had an operational in-flight refuelling system?
I suspect the F-111 honour guard was there to give the Soviets something familiar to spot on their scopes and familiar radio signal emissions to prevent arousing suspicion. Which would rule out a recon platform as generally you wouldn't want to advertise the flight at all.

I must say I'm surprised how some 'black' projects have been revealed in detail and how others haven't. In the 1980s the loud publicity over ATF, ATB and A-12 tended to drown out other things in the background. Projects like Tacit Blue and 'Bird of Prey' seemed safe once their research role had lapsed for the covers to come off off but other programmes have remained firmly hidden away. Just this week there are signs Boeing had worked on a stealthy insertion helicopter (presumably for the US Army?) after 2004 and with enough progress to have a few in service by 2011 and presumably they still are today, so the 'black' programmes continue. I wonder how much of the reluctance to reveal previous programmes is due to a desire to keep the fact large sums of money were (and are) being channelled away from bureaucratic oversight into additional procurement programmes than for any real technological reason?
 

LowObservable

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I wonder how much of the reluctance to reveal previous programmes is due to a desire to keep the fact large sums of money were (and are) being channelled away from bureaucratic oversight into additional procurement programmes than for any real technological reason?

That's certainly possible.

However, there are still more holes than history from the early 80s onward. The major expansion and modernization of Groom Lake/Watertown/Det 3 post-dated F-117 and had nothing to do with B-2. There has consistently been more classified $ in the USAF budget than the "non-Blue" conduits to the IC.

By the way, my favorite theory for the F-111s is that in the event of a refueling issue, all three aircraft could leg it for a UK base and 999 people out of 1000 would see three F-111s. Just like it was the Opsec's team's rotten luck that they flew over an oil rig that had Chris on it.
 

RavenOne

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Hood said:
Agreed, during the 1980s the Government was zealous in exercising its rights under the Act, ironically having exactly the opposite effect in limiting exposure.
Even as a minor clerk for a government agency a decade ago I had to sign the Act, so its use has not diminished. Its no wonder that anyone actively employed in the defence related services and ministries took that seriously and still do.

The Government takes its secrecy very seriously.
One example, look at the RAF involvement with the U-2. Barely anything has been released at Kew or shows signs of being so, despite the recent CIA history declassifications. None of the pilots have come forward, and nothing has been known other than what the CIA histories reveal. Pretty much nothing other than London hanging in there and sending pilots for conversion and doing check flights for 20 years.

The fact the Americans had offered Britain F-117s or what 'Project Moonflower' was unknown until 2016. F-117 visits to UK USAF bases before when it was firmly a 'black project' have never been confirmed. Events like the Boscombe Down crash in 1997 remain fully shrouded. So the Government has proved capable of keeping its involvements with US technology secret.

That Chris saw some kind of stealth aircraft (and not Aurora - that was the hype of the period) I do not dispute.
Was it a demonstrator? Perhaps, but then would it have had an operational in-flight refuelling system?
I suspect the F-111 honour guard was there to give the Soviets something familiar to spot on their scopes and familiar radio signal emissions to prevent arousing suspicion. Which would rule out a recon platform as generally you wouldn't want to advertise the flight at all.

I must say I'm surprised how some 'black' projects have been revealed in detail and how others haven't. Things like Tacit Blue and 'Bird of Prey' seemed safe to let the covers off but others are not. Just this week there are signs Boeing had worked on a stealthy insertion helicopter (presumably for the US Army?) after 2004 and with enough progress to have a few in service by 2011, so the 'black' programmes continue. I wonder how much is due to a desire to keep the fact large sums of money are being channelled away from bureaucratic oversight than for any real technological reason?
Boscombe Down incident was back end of 1994 think you are confusing 1997 because the story was told in dept in publication of Air Forces Monthly March/April edition that year.

I am wondering if the F-111 crews must have been the senior executives of either 48th TFW or 20th TFW ....like the CO, his deputy, someone with TS clearence to see such a vehicle.

Very curious why F-117 visits to UK still secret...however there is a photo on one of the 'Goat Suckers' A-7E on a visit to RAF Woodbridge in mid 80s as part of the cover story, A-7 went around bases in USAFE, PACAF with empty pods makred with radiation symbols and the ground crews were told to hit the floor and not look as they taxied past or something like that.

Then in DM Giangrecos book on the F-117 circa 1993, it says about the UK being trusted as a relief / emergency in case secret testing went wrong. Also mentions RAF Macrihanish. Mainly because the first two pilots now officially acknowledged flew it....one of which was on BBC documentary Test Pilot following their year long course at Boscombe Down. No sooner had he graduated as best student with the McKenna Trophy and was approached with notion to go to USA and take it from there

Cheers
 

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LowObservable

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Have there been any reports that the F-117 deployed anywhere outside the USA before Desert Shield?

The contemporary view was that it had not done so, and the gradual declassification leading to the public showing at Nellis (4/90) was part of the prep for such activities. I have a note from an on-the-record interview in 1992 (a period when the DoD was being quite open about stealth) where a USAF officer stated that DS was the first deployment.
 

RavenOne

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LowObservable said:
Have there been any reports that the F-117 deployed anywhere outside the USA before Desert Shield?

The contemporary view was that it had not done so, and the gradual declassification leading to the public showing at Nellis (4/90) was part of the prep for such activities. I have a note from an on-the-record interview in 1992 (a period when the DoD was being quite open about stealth) where a USAF officer stated that DS was the first deployment.
Operation Just Cause in Panama ...thats when the first sighting was and photo taken. It was published in Air Forces Monthly

Cheera
 

RavenOne

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Hood said:
Agreed, during the 1980s the Government was zealous in exercising its rights under the Act, ironically having exactly the opposite effect in limiting exposure.
Even as a minor clerk for a government agency a decade ago I had to sign the Act, so its use has not diminished. Its no wonder that anyone actively employed in the services and civil service took that seriously and still do.

The Government takes its secrecy very seriously. For example, the RAF involvement with the U-2. Barely anything has been released at Kew or shows signs of being so, despite the recent CIA declassifications. None of the pilots have come forward, and nothing has been known other than what the CIA histories reveal. An the involvement seems to be pretty much nothing other than London hanging in there for the capability and sending pilots for conversion and doing check flights for 20 years. The fact the Americans had offered Britain F-117s or what 'Project Moonflower' was unknown until 2016. F-117 visits to UK USAF bases while still a classified programme have never been confirmed. Events like the Boscombe Down crash in 1997 remain fully shrouded. So the Government has proved capable of keeping its involvements with US technology secret.

That Chris saw some kind of stealth aircraft (and not Aurora - that was simply the hype of the period) I do not dispute.
Was it a demonstrator? Perhaps, but then would it have had an operational in-flight refuelling system?
I suspect the F-111 honour guard was there to give the Soviets something familiar to spot on their scopes and familiar radio signal emissions to prevent arousing suspicion. Which would rule out a recon platform as generally you wouldn't want to advertise the flight at all.

I must say I'm surprised how some 'black' projects have been revealed in detail and how others haven't. In the 1980s the loud publicity over ATF, ATB and A-12 tended to drown out other things in the background. Projects like Tacit Blue and 'Bird of Prey' seemed safe once their research role had lapsed for the covers to come off off but other programmes have remained firmly hidden away. Just this week there are signs Boeing had worked on a stealthy insertion helicopter (presumably for the US Army?) after 2004 and with enough progress to have a few in service by 2011 and presumably they still are today, so the 'black' programmes continue. I wonder how much of the reluctance to reveal previous programmes is due to a desire to keep the fact large sums of money were (and are) being channelled away from bureaucratic oversight into additional procurement programmes than for any real technological reason?
What 2004 stealthy insertion helicopter? Was it an upgrade/modification to the A/MH-6 Little Birds by any chance to make them a tad less visible from E/O or radar?

Cheers
 

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Should have been clearer. Deployed = Units on ground, with support. The Just Cause mission was flown from the USA with tanker support.
 

bob225

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Evening all,

I'm Guessing Mr Gibson kept quiet as this was long before facebook and instant exposure, being part of the observer corps also meant not blabbing about what you've seen or learnt, it was not the done thing, stiff upper british lip and taking security seriously etc!

F117's deployed to RAF Lakenheath in the early post gulf war years (93 certainly), often transiting down to Saudi.

They also conducted day and night "visits" to RAF stations around the UK, normally in pairs, bit odd siting on an airfield and them going over in the dark.

If memory serves anytime F117 and defiantly B2's visit they have an honour guard of at least a pair of F15E's that go out into the Atlantic to collect them.

I got told years ago to watch out for 3 black jets, two appeared (F117 & B2) perhaps no3 never existed?
 

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I was in the air cadets in 1991 subsequently , we heard rumours from other air cadets in East Anglia region had seen F-117A flown into RAF Mildenhall circa late 80s.

Initially I dismissed it because if anything RAF Lakenheath is far more suited because

1) The base is surrounded by trees (even with the viewing area car park and mound area warren on the west side of the base, you don’t see everything my photos below from the tower in May and later on October from the warren when the F/A-18E/F from the CVN battle group were on a temporary detachment

2) Plenty Of Hardened Aircraft Shelters around, mostly in wooded areas ( again my photos) the white golf balls in distance are from RAF Feltwell. Used to be 5th Space Warning Squadron which disbanded a decade or so ago. Now it’s the 18th Space Intel Sqn there as well as DoD schools for kids etc etc.


However looking back now, I forgot that the twin ‘barns’ used by Det 4 9th SRW for the SR-71B are also similar to the barns at Tonopah where the F-117 were individually housed. Det 9 did not leave U.K. till 1990.
And of course there are already Skunk Works personnel with Top Secret clearance already on site. So logic seems if the F-117 did drop into U.K. then for sure The Hall be logical at the time.

The ‘barns’ are laughingly visible from West Row Jarmans Lane and Pollards Lane .( screen dump from google earth). They’re supposedly empty used as spare warehouse storage what not.

Also in Group Captain Tom Eeles biography he mentions something weird and strange x 2 into the Hall in 93 from Runway 29 direction which is more discreet than from Runway 11 side which is to the west and pretty much open.

Cheers
 

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marauder2048

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CJGibson said:
Arjen said:
With the way the UK government reacted to Peter Wright's Spycatcher and the Zircon Affair of the eighties freshly in mind, I can understand why anybody with information about secret military hardware would hesitate to find out to what uses the Official Secrets Act could be stretched.
My case rests.

Chris
The UK government had *lost* the Spycatcher case and the earlier Pontig case; it was because of those losses
(due the "public interest" defense in the 1911 act) that the 1989 Act had to be promulgated. But it was well
and truly dead during the interim.

Of course Zircon, Pontig and Spycatcher and the had to do with disclosure of official secrets encountered
in the course of official duties.

Gibson's story isn't that at all.

If it had been, Gibson would have been obliged to report to his superiors that a bunch of unauthorized
civilians had just seen an official secret. And then those civilians would have been advised that what
they saw fell under the Act and they, the civilians, were now bound by it.

That's one gaping flaw inherent in the story.

Here's the other one:

Earlier in 1989, the Bush administration had re-opened the "Open Skies" proposal.
This was well known. What was not well known (until declassification in 1999) was that this proposal
had the backing of a National Security Directive (NSD-15).

The introduction and/or operation of a hitherto undisclosed type is completely anathema
to the above effort and would not have been risked.
 

marauder2048

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It's also unclear that aircraft reporting was even an official duty of the ROC post-1965.

But considering that Gibson's story amounts to a glorified UFO sighting:

There are plenty records showing ROC members, active and retired, reporting UFOs with
no evidence that this reporting ever led to any retaliation or disciplinary action or was viewed
as being bound by the Official Secrets Act.
 

CJGibson

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marauder2048 said:
It's also unclear that aircraft reporting was even an official duty of the ROC post-1965.
Of course it wasn't! We had radar by then. Aircraft recognition training was a recruitment and retention activity post-65.

marauder2048 said:
But considering that Gibson's story amounts to a glorified UFO sighting:

There are plenty records showing ROC members, active and retired, reporting UFOs with
no evidence that this reporting ever led to any retaliation or disciplinary action or was viewed
as being bound by the Official Secrets Act.
Of course it was! An object, that was flying and I couldn't identify. Fits the bill.
Yup, there are plenty, including the 'weather reconnaissance' U-2 sighting.


Chris
 

LowObservable

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But considering that Gibson's story amounts to a glorified UFO sighting:

Given that (1) we had a trained observer, (2) there was no claim to have seen anything that was not visible (for instance, excess detail), (2) that what was seen did not violate the known bounds of aeronautics, let alone the laws of physics and (3) the story has remained entirely consistent over time...
 

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marauder2048

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CJGibson said:
marauder2048 said:
It's also unclear that aircraft reporting was even an official duty of the ROC post-1965.
Aircraft recognition training was a recruitment and retention activity post-65.

With it not being an official duty there's no reason for it to fall under the Official Secrets Act. Which is my point.

And given the MOD's apparently very low estimation of the skillset (various trials with the ROC post-1965 failed to restore the
recognition/reporting requirement) it's difficult to place much stock in the observations of those trained in it.


LowObservable said:
But considering that Gibson's story amounts to a glorified UFO sighting:

Given that (1) we had a trained observer, (2) there was no claim to have seen anything that was not visible (for instance, excess detail), (2) that what was seen did not violate the known bounds of aeronautics, let alone the laws of physics and (3) the story has remained entirely consistent over time...
The ROC witnesses in many of the other cases didn't see anything that violated the known bounds of aeronautics or
physics either but they reported these things contemperaneously.

And given our modern understanding of human memory of real events, you would actually expect *inconsistencies* to
arise over decades of recall and retelling.

Please recall that Open Skies 1989 and NSD-15 need to be explained away; the stated policy goals of
the first Director of Central Intelligence to hold the presidency would be taken very seriously and not put at risk.
 

Mark Nankivil

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Wow, what's the 3rd degree all about regarding a sighting years ago by a well respected forum member and author? It is out of line and to what purpose? Crap, you would think he was trying to prove WWII German stealth technology the way you're going after it.....

If you don't believe it, then don't bother about it. I for one don't doubt his description or reasoning on how/why he has handled it then or now.

Use your time to go find something good in an archive somewhere and share that! Mark
 

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Wow, what's the 3rd degree all about regarding a sighting years ago by a well respected forum member and author?

There's a bit of a pattern here, shown across this and other forums.
 

CJGibson

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marauder2048 said:
And given the MOD's apparently very low estimation of the skillset (various trials with the ROC post-1965 failed to restore the
recognition/reporting requirement) it's difficult to place much stock in the observations of those trained in it.
Got a reference for that?

Chris
 

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This topic is closed pending new developments. No point rehashing the same arguments.
 
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