Defense technology blog Ares reports on a mysterious flying object—most certainly a military classified aircraft—flying over the skies of Amarillo, Texas, on March 10. Aviation Week's defense expert Bill Sweetman says this is unprecedented but he's convinced it's real.
Images by Steve Douglass and Dean Muskett
Three of us here—myself, Graham Warwick and Guy Norris—concur that the photos show something real. Guy and I have known Steve Douglass for a long time, and know that the reason that he sees (and monitors by radio) unusual things is that he spends time looking for them. Here is Steve's account of one of his better radio intercepts. This is more than a random image.
The photos tell us more about what the mysterious stranger isn't than what it is. The size is very hard to determine, for example, although the image size at contrailing height suggests that it is bigger than an X-47B. However, the basic shape—while it resembles Boeing's Blended Wing Body studies or the Swift Killer Bee/Northrop Grumman Bat unmanned air system—is different from anything known to have flown at full size, lacking the notched trailing edge of Northrop Grumman's full-size designs.
According to Sweetman there were two more planes and, after listening to the radio chatter, they believe the aircraft was not a drone. It seems there was a pilot in there. He also doubts "that you'd dispatch three large, classified unmanned aircraft anywhere in formation."
This is a unique image, he says, because it's the first time that a classified airplane has been captured like this, over the United States. It's only logical, he adds, to "expect that numerous classified aircraft programs exist: it's almost a necessity under the principle of Occam's Razor, because if they don't, you have to contrive some sort of explanation for what Area 51 has been up to all these years."
He speculates that this could be a replacement for the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, a stealth ground-attack aircraft that was retired six years ago.