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Mysterious delta jet over Texas, a fortnight ago

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Mysterious delta jet over Texas, a fortnight ago

Old 30th Mar 2014, 22:31
  #41 (permalink)  
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X47b trialling a couple of chem-trail dispensers. Simples.......
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Old 30th Mar 2014, 22:37
  #42 (permalink)  
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At my old Part 145 MRO company, around 10 years back, the other other of the business was a Part 21G and J composite facility. We had a contract with a bunch of Bedfordshire academics and boffins to build the BWB scaled drop test models as said academics had been contracted by the Boeing Phantom Works. Also we got involved indirectly with the Cambridge Uni / MIT Silent Aircraft initiative

The 'Silent' Aircraft Initiative

Back to the BWB, below my feet in my Quality Dept, these shapes were built and then shipped off back to Huntington Beach and would find their way up to the Mojave and used for a series of crash test evaluations. I do not believe they were in anyway used as airborne tests from say NASA NB-52H or any other platform, but launched like as a UAS....

Last I heard the BWB scaled models we built, had all but one or two used and made a dent in the lovely Mojave desert,

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Old 30th Mar 2014, 22:55
  #43 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by ShotOne
... my money is still on the (single engined)X47B for the much more basic reason that the planform looks like it.
But it really doesn't.

Where's the crank in the leading edge and the W-shaped trailing edge "boat tail" in the first pic?

Originally Posted by ShotOne
Even if some new mega plane had somehow been funded and built in super-secrecy ...
Well, there's got to be SOME reason for the USG to be spending all that money on this:

It's not as if there aren't precedents for super-secret aircraft development programmes.

Steve Douglass's credentials were mentioned earlier. To me, it seems he may have been naive and not too rigorous in the conclusions that he has drawn in the past. I've not seen anything that suggests he is a hoaxer or would fake images, though.

Originally Posted by WhiteOvies
... it says there were 3 aircraft in the formation, not 3 of these triangles.
Actually, the suggestion is that there were three triangles - there's another shot apparently showing three from Steve Douglass's site, which PPRuNe annoyingly won't allow a link to but which can be found from the AvWeek link in the original post in this thread.

Phantom Ray fits more than X-47B (except for the single engine...), but both those are open programmes, and only 1 of the former and 2 of the latter have been built. Or acknowledged to have been built you might well object, but then why reveal the aircraft but hide how many are built? They're demonstrators, not operational aircraft, we are told.

Also, the Phantom Ray has a one-piece wing and is therefore difficult to move from factory to test site - people would surely notice.

PS Can anybody point to definitive information on the current US rules for flying UAVs outside of Ranges or otherwise segregated airspace? In other words, if UAVs could not have been flown over Amarillo legally then it is a strike against the triangles being UAVs. If they could, well - we're none the wiser!

Edit again, to answer my own question. The relevant FAA Fact Sheet is here, from which I quote selectively but hopefully accurately:

Originally Posted by FAA
The Certificate of Authorization [for Public Use UAVs] allows an operator to use a defined block of airspace and includes special provisions unique to the proposed operation.

Because UAS technology cannot currently comply with “see and avoid” rules that apply to all aircraft, a visual observer or an accompanying “chase plane” must maintain visual contact with the UAS and serve as its “eyes” when operating outside airspace restricted from other users.
So there would need to be a manned chase AND a defined COA Block of Airspace. In the absence of a COA NOTAM to that effect, which has not been mentioned by anyone, I think that means they shouldn't legally have been UAVs.

Last edited by hoodie; 30th Mar 2014 at 23:48. Reason: Stuff about 3 triangles & query about UAV rules in US
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Old 30th Mar 2014, 23:47
  #44 (permalink)  
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Thanks for the great pic, pc9, that illustrates my point exactly. I agree my initial post only told a bit of the story, although I did elaborate in my PM to you. I still feel the contrail debate, fascinating as it was, has sent us off at rather a tangent. hoodie, fair point, it's certainly missing the "boat tail"
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 00:51
  #45 (permalink)  
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Quite possible it is something entirely new.
That planform does look odd; not a cranked arrow, not arcuate, no beaver tail like the B2.
I've long suspected there are a whole family of subsonic reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles that we're unaware of.
Nothing incredibly exotic, just variations on a theme - and I wonder if this is one of them.
Look at the Sentinel, Polecat, Bird of Prey.
Developed relatively quickly, and in secrecy.
I assume that rapid prototyping, large single composite piece manufacturing and re-using existing powerplants (and other bits like landing gear etc) means that new sub or transonic manned or unmanned prototypes can be developed reasonably quickly.
History seems to show its when you start wanting to go very fast, very high, very far or combinations of all three that programs get expensive, big and unwieldy.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 04:00
  #46 (permalink)  
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Shot, if you sent me a PM, I didn't receive it.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 10:21
  #47 (permalink)  
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ShotOne:if we're talking about high level contrails, they are caused by the jet exhaust, specifically the water content, being mixed by wingtip vortices.
ShotOne:Yes they were, Roland.
No they weren't. Nor were the contrails on a Nimrod formed by mixing of the exhaust gases and the wing tip vortices.

Please note that from saudipc9's 747 photo the contrails are most definitely coming from the engines - they appear well before the wing tip vortex could have mixed with jet eflux. What happens further behind the 747 is the mixing of the contrail and vortex - but the contrail is NOT caused by mixing - that just changes the shape and look.
Are you postulating that contrails from aircraft with tail mounted engines behave fundamentally differently from others? I'd challenge you to tell those of, say, an MD80 and a 737 apart a minute after they'd passed
Only that the contrails from any type are formed from the jet exhaust and would be there whether there was a wing tip vortex or not. What happens further behind the aircraft when the two do mix is an entirely different question.
And yes, you can often tell the difference between 4-jet contrails and twin jet contrails.

Now back to the mystery aircraft. Given the graininess of the picture and lack of definition, I'm still sticking with B2. Try copying and pasting the photo into something that you can zoom in on (ie Word - other word processing software is available) and zoom in to 500% - to my eye you can see the "wings" and the trailing edge saw tooth. The trailing edge definition (as shown in Willard's earlier photo) is just lost in the pixelation of this photo.

Last edited by Roland Pulfrew; 31st Mar 2014 at 10:41.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 10:51
  #48 (permalink)  
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A problems with them being B-2 is the response Douglass got from Public Affairs at Whiteman AFB (quoted at the page linked from the OP):

Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:00 PM
To: Sweetman, Bill

Subject: Aircraft sighting


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

Very Respectfully,

Jennifer Greene
Director of Community Relations
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Now, there might be B-2s operated away from Whiteman (AFFTC is the obvious alternative), but 3 of them?

Maybe the photos are too poor, but I would still have expected to see evidence of a W trailing edge if a B-2.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 11:17
  #49 (permalink)  
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A problems with them being B-2 is the response Douglass got from Public Affairs at Whiteman AFB
I don't know what US FoI laws are like, but would the USAF necessarily confirm an operational, or even a training, sortie?
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 11:24
  #50 (permalink)  
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But they unequivocally said "Not ours" - they didn't say "I am unable to provide that information".
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 14:20
  #51 (permalink)  
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Given the modest resolution of the picture, and the unknown color of the underside of the boat tail, it's not impossible it's an X47. To be more sure you'd need to blur the image using the resolution response of the camera against a bright sky background, and include the effects of the uncertain elevation to the aircraft, which makes it appear shortened in the wingspan direction than if it was directly overhead, and so makes the wing sweep angle appear greater than it is.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 15:00
  #52 (permalink)  
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The twin contrail is the clincher against X-47B for me. Your suggestion may be valid for B-2 if from somewhere other than Whiteman, though.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 19:44
  #53 (permalink)  
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It just doesn't look like a B2 to me.

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Old 31st Mar 2014, 21:17
  #54 (permalink)  
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Why are all you guys presuming it is an American aircraft? Don't you read the Iranian Press Releases?
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Old 1st Apr 2014, 00:16
  #55 (permalink)  
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Why are all you guys presuming it is an American aircraft? Don't you read the Iranian Press Releases?
If it'd nuked Texas we would've heard about it by now. Nebraska, on the other hand...
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Old 1st Apr 2014, 15:31
  #56 (permalink)  
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If, as an earlier poster seemed to suggest, this was in airspace not open to UAV's that certainly points to it not being one. In the post-wikileak age it would take impressively big cojones to flagrantly break the law in broad daylight.

Very happy to accept your word, Roland, on VC10 contrails. Not seen many lately for some reason
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Old 1st Apr 2014, 20:42
  #57 (permalink)  
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Alien craft or military spy plane?Alien craft or military spy plane?
"Published on Mar 31, 2014
Texans spotted something odd in the sky in Amarillo on March 10. Photos of the object were verified by experts as "something real," but what exactly is still not known. To try and find out whether the mysterious craft may be a new US spy plane or military jet, RT's Lindsay France spoke with the Senior International Defense Editor of Aviation Week, Bill Sweetman."
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Old 29th Jun 2014, 10:53
  #58 (permalink)  
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Northrop Grumman answer

Northrop Grumman Subscale Test Vehicle | Aerospace Projects Review Blog

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Old 30th Jun 2014, 13:55
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I an trying to sort out where the passengers fit in this lovely design.
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Old 30th Jun 2014, 16:50
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Graphic and story are not complimentary. The graphic show the payload as 463L pallets upon which cargo is shipped. It also shows 4 engines which at this size aircraft (based on weight) means roughly 100-120 pax if conventional aircraft are accurate for comparison. I don't see many airlines being interested in that in a relatively small aircraft.
I recognize this is a paper airplane and a lot of work remains but this looks like a plane designed with requirements closer to what the military would want than what the airlines would want.
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