Tag Archives: UCAV

Triangular Object Spotted “Dogfighting” With Two F-16s Inside Area 51

Photos shot from UFO Seekers allegedly show unknown, triangular object interacting with two U.S. Air Force F-16s. But it’s probably a bird.

On Feb. 15, 2017, UFO seekers Tim Doyle and Tracey Su were camping near Groom Lake to take pictures and film videos of activity in the skies inside Area 51. During their stay, they spotted a couple of F-16s dogfighting and snapped some shots at the jets. It wasn’t until they got back home, when they started reviewing the pictures, that they noticed a third unidentified aircraft that they described as a “triangular” object which appeared to be dogfighting the “Vipers” (as the F-16s are dubbed within the fighter pilots community).

The video below includes the pictures shot by Tracey (go to 19:45).

“We try to be a medium between the UFO Community and the Aviation Community. My dad worked at Plant 42 and other family had similar jobs. So people shouldn’t believe we would ever jump to advocating the existence of aliens or an alien craft at AREA 51. But that day we did catch a third craft, unfortunately we only used the photos in the video. All media from that trip was lost in a hard drive failure. In fact UFO Seekers lost over 5 months worth of media (6TB). It may have been a foreign aircraft as that is the primary purpose of the airspace at Groom Lake. Also I know the Air Force tests craft like the Polecat at the NTTR so it may have been an unmanned drone. But maybe, just maybe, it was something more,” said Tim in a message to The Aviationist.

The two F-16s flying close to the mysterious object (highlighted). This is a screen grab from UFO Seekers video filmed close to Area 51.

Here’s the mysterious object. Aircraft, drone or bird? (Screenshot from the UFO Seekers video).

The resolution of images in the video does not allow a proper identification of the object which might well be a drone (or a distant manned aircraft…such as an F-117 that was spotted flying over Nevada with accompanying F-16, in the recent past), still the story of the alleged interaction has had some exposure.

Assessing the size is difficult: even though the perspective might be a factor here, the object seems to be smaller than the F-16s, but probably much larger than a micro-drone as the bird-sized Perdix drones, 103 of those, launched from three F/A-18F Super Hornets, took part in one of the world’s largest micro-drone swarms over the skies of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California on Oct. 25, 2016. That said, the aircraft could be a prototype of some new UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), maybe a UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), a weaponized drone.

Considered the position of the two fighters, rather than a dogfight, it seems that the jets were chasing the mysterious object rather than engaging it. Maybe they had just intercepted it in a simulated VID mission, or they were simply shadowing or filming a test flight. However, unlike what happened last year with the shots of the Su-27P dofighting with an F-16 inside Area 51, these new photos embedded in a YT video can’t provide a clear picture of the interaction.

Update: According to our friend Tyler Rogoway at The War Zone, the object is clearly a bird. “I literally see this all the time in frames. Birds catching thermals,” he says. “Viewing a bird somewhat edge on while soaring, that is exactly what they look like,” he said in a tweet to The Aviationist. To be honest I don’t see a bird here, but I may be wrong.

Update 2: Mick West, creator of Metabunk and famous debunker, has done an interesting analysis coming to the conclusion it was a bird. Here it is:

More or less the same analysis done by @AircraftSpots

Case closed? It seems so.

What’s your opinion? Let us know.

H/T @ufo_seekers

Europe’s new stealth combat drone has successfully completed 12 highly sensitive test sorties in Italy

The nEUROn has conducted 12 highly sensitive sorties to verify the characteristics of radar-cross section and infrared signature in Italy.

The first example of the nEUROn UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) has successfully completed its flight test campaign in the Perdasdefogu range, Sardinia, Italy.

The nEUROn is a full-scale technological demonstrator for a UCAV developed by an industrial team led by Dassault Aviation with the collaboration of Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, Saab, Airbus Defence and Space, RUAG and HAI representing France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece that rolled out on Jan. 20, 2012, after five years of design, development, and static testing.

The shape of the nEUROn reminds that of the American X-47B (even though, from a certain angle it also shows a certain resemblance to the F-117 Nighthawk...).

During the deployment at Italian Air Force’s Decimomannu airbase, the stealth killer drone demonstrator flew 12 highly sensitive sorties to assess its low radar-cross section and low infrared signature, during missions flown at different altitudes and flight profiles and against both ground-based and air radar “threats”, using in this latter case, a Eurofighter Typhoon.

The next testing phase will see the European UCAV deploy to Vidsel Air Base, in Sweden, for more low observability tests and some live firing activity needed to validate the capability of the nEUROn to use weapons carried in the internal weapons bay.

 

This photo of X-47B combat drone taking fuel from tanker proves we are one step closer to unmanned aerial refueling

X-47B has completed first contact with an aerial refueling hose.

On Apr. 16, “Salty Dog 502”, one of the two Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft of the X-47B program performed autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) test, plugging the in-flight refueling (IFR) probe into the hose of a Omega Air tanker off the coast of Maryland.

The AAR in set to be the last for the two X-47B stealth killer drone technology demonstrators (the other being “Salty Dog 501”): with the end of this testing phase the two unmanned aircraft will be retired and probably donated to a museum or stored at the “boneyard”, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

In fact the X-47B is “just” a technology demonstrator and, as such, it’s till quite different from the planned Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS).

In spite of calls to extend testing on the Northrop platforms, the costs to reconfigure the two X-47B in such a way to let them behave more like the Navy’s preferred option for UCLASS would be prohibitive.

Image credit: Northrop Grumman

 

US Navy to get Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance & Strike stealthy drones

Naval Air Systems Command (US Navy) has announced on its website that the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance has “identified a need for an aircraft carrier based aircraft system providing persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).”

It is thought that the US Navy is to release its requirements during December for the new aircraft, to be named Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance & Strike (UCLASS) . It is thought that the requirements will ask that the UCAV will need to be able to fly 2000 nautical miles from the carrier and carry a suite of weapons and sensors or a mixture of both. The aircraft would need to have stealth capability to penetrate hostile airspace and then send back the data its sensors have collected. Then, if necessary, they would have to destroy selected targets.

Many companies are developing their take on the UCLASS requirements. Lockheed Martin with their Sea Ghost UAS, Boeing (tweaked X-45C), Northrop Grumman (X-47B) and General Atomics (Sea Avenger) are the other leaders in the race to place a UAS on the decks of US carriers by 2018.

This may seem an aggressive schedule but the technology has also been tested to land a UAV onto the Deck of a carrier. Hence, it will be more than likely a case of modifying an existing design for the carrier operations.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Top image: the Sea Avenger in a General Atomics rendering

Drone Revolution has just begun: Poland to replace Su-22 Fitter strike fighters with UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles)

Poland is planning to replace its fleet of aging Soviet era Sukhoi Su-22M strike aircraft with an unmanned strike aircraft (UCAV) system.

According to Poland’s Ministry of Defense, a future procurement of some 30 armed unmanned aircraft equipping three squadrons by 2018 is being considered. Senior defense officials say Poland will not modernize the Soviet-built jets, first of which are to be withdrawn from service in 2014.

Image credit: Chris Lofting/Wiki

Polish military discussed the acquisition of a further squadron of F-16C/D fighter jets. However, the plan was eventually scrapped by the ministry. The Polish Air Force has 48 F-16C/D Block 52+ fighter jets which were purchased in 2004.

The arguments in favour for UCAV system are that the unmanned aircraft would be more affordable, particularly considering the logistical nightmare of maintaining the aging Soviet fighters and lack of spares for such platforms. UCAV could also operate on longer missions and the training of operators and support personnel will be cheaper.

Moreover, the deployment of unmanned aircraft, in support of NATO operations overseas or in support of other peacekeeping operations, would become more affordable and require smaller logistics, compared to similar operations performed by manned aircrafts.

The actual options are narrowed to 4 platforms – General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, IAI/Malat Heron TP, Elbit Systems Hermes 900 and turkish TAI Anka, although its payload is limited compared to the other alternatives.

Image credit: NATO

The Su-22 has been in service in the Polish Air Force since 1984. This export variant of the Soviet Su-17M2, had fixed inner portions of the wing with movable outer segments which could be swept to 28°, 45°, or 62° and was first produced in 1976.

Of the total 110 fighters delivered from Russia only 45 are still operational – 38 Su-22M-4K and seven Su-22UM-3k two seaters. Three squadrons currently operating the Fitters are 8th Tactical Squadron at Miroslawiec and the 40th and 7th Tactical Squadrons at Swidwin where the new drones are planned to be stationed.

El Lince Analista  for TheAviationist.com