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Why are defence establishments obsessed with secrecy ?

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posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 10:01 AM
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This is my first ever started topic so bear with me if its not an amazing, eye opening revelatory piece of work, but ill try better in the future I promise


I have just been flicking thru the thread entitled "Americas Future Interceptor" with interest and noting the comments about the undoubtedly superb F-22. However, some comments on there made me think about certain defence establishments paranoia / obsession with secrecy. Now I know that certain things must be kept from the public, you know, the really serious things that if we found out would either irreversibly change our world forever, or make us want to string up the people involved, eg aliens and the supposed existence of, JFK, Moon Landings and all that jazz

However, Does it really matter whether Joe Public knows that the new F-22 can in fact at a push reach Mach 2.92 and has an actual service ceiling of 123,456 feet (for example) ??? What possible disadvantage will the average F-22 pilot be under if Joe Bloggs knows that ? He's sitting in the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world and no other pilot can touch him

We know that the intelligence networks of the world CAN be effective and that as soon as an aircraft is released its performance and specs are probably common knowledge within the intel community anyway !? And please dont say that its due to the fact that its to prevent a supposed enemy from gaining a technological advantage over us, mainly the people that we fight now are using outdated technology, have very poor training, and have low morale.

My question seems to be this, are the defence organisations around the world too obsessed with secrecy and do they love telling us what we can and cant know?

Not really a great discussion topic, just that the thought occured to me






posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 10:10 AM
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Because the current technology gets the job done, and as soon as new technology is revealed, it is either stolen, or emulated.

Have you ever played poker? When you get a good hand, would you shout "All righ!!! 4 Aces! YES! You guys are going down!", or would you calmly raise the bet until all players checked, and then reveal your hand only when it was time?

War Technology is nothing more than a very complicated game of Poker.



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 10:17 AM
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But my argument is that we arent going to war with Joe Bloggs in the street are we ? We are going to war with an enemy that, whether we like it or not, knows pretty much everything about us ?

Unless you are saying that they know nothing about us, and the fear of our weapons is enough to deter ? in which case it doesnt seem to have worked all the way thru history so i fail to see how it is happening now. Take for example the SR-71. Now I am not the most knowledgeable person with regards to history, but I was under the impression that the Soviets knew that they were being overflown by this aircraft, but also knew most of its specifications as well, despite the fact that its real performance was only revealed to the public in the 80's ?!

I may be wrong, but it seems that the enemies that have the ability to develop an effective counter against these type of weapons, also have the intelligence ability to be able to discover what they need to know ?!



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 10:47 AM
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Yessss.... that could very well be so... they might have known every inch of that plane, and yet couldn't find any effective way to keep it out of their skies, and spent decades trying to figure out a jet whose model oringally prototyped around the 1950's... And for over 40 years, it was the most effective spyplane around, and kept people watching it, studying, and they STILL didn't know everything there is to know about it, or how to really put a stop to it...

Then the Stealth Jet, that black oddly angular bird, was revealed as "The Replacement for the SR-71"... and no one knows jack about it, except how it looks. Well, I got news for you. It prototyped in the 1960's... but no one even had so much as a photo of it till news of "Project Aurora" got around.

So pretty much you can assume that the height of our technology is at least 40 years more advanced than the best of what we see in the present day, and all the other cards are laying on the table, and The Man has one helluva good poker face.

Again... why? Because if your enemy thinks they are facing the height of your technology, and you're actually about 40 years ahead, you can keep them chasing phantoms (or skunks) that are outdated. If they manage to defeat that technology, then you can let them think they won for a bit, and then introduce your "newest coolest technology", which is only 35 years old in real life, and you gain another 5 to 40 years worth of time to research new stuff while they try to figure out the old.

In a more simple analogy, when a magician plucks a rose from thin air, they aren't REALLY plucking a rose from thin air. They are distracting you with the left hand, while the right hand very quickly and subtly makes it's move. No magic, just very well practiced distraction.

And it works... very very well. At our current publicly known tech level, we are almost certainly assured air superiority for upwards of the next 20-50 years. By the time they decommission the stealth jet due to the enemies finally learning too much about it, it will be anywhere from 60-90 years old. Then they can release a whole new plane, that was developed in the 1970's, which will last another 20-50 years... are you following along?

Every new model introduced gains the U.S. 10 to 40 years worth of time to research stuff in complete and utter secrecy... in about 5 generations of "new top secret air planes" revealed, military tech will be literally hundreds of years in advance of what the public or the enemies can even fathom, but the stuff released will always look new and amazing, despite being 100+ year old technology.

Can you think of any better way to always ensure air superiority?



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 11:48 AM
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Argus, I've worked in the aerospace industry for thirty-five years, and have held several levels of clearance (none of which I have now).

I would take exception to the comment from some of our colleagues that "...height of our technology is at least 40 years more advanced than the best of what we see in the present day...."

I believe that our military capabilities are decades ahead of most of our potential adversaries, but that stems from our huge industrial base, educational system, training and logistics methodologies, and even to our system of government and cultural underpinnings (cf. Victor Davis Hanson's 'Carnage and Culture'). But technology is only a part of it, and if our actual technology were actually 40 years ahead of what "the public" sees, we wouldn't be spending billions upon billions of dollars of "obsolete" F-35s, F-22s, SU-37s, and B-2s.



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 12:03 PM
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WOW, SU-37's?????????? Surely some mistake?

Anyways, I agree with your post, how can anyone seriously think that aircraft and weapons already exist that are decades in advance of the stuff that America is spending BILLIONS on right now. Its absolutely ridiculous. The hardware that the US forces are recieving and are going to recieve in the coming years are the best that they can possibly be, when they can be made even better they will be upgraded or replaced, anything different is BS.



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 12:58 PM
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The reason for secrecy (in regards to aircraft performance) is that if the enemy knows the limits of an aircraft, it can exploit them or design a new aircraft/weapon to exploit them.

In regards to why spend billions on "obsolete" aircraft when we have technology 50 years ahead of what the public sees now....

I kind of agree - BUT one reason MIGHT be that to field the numbers of such advanced aircraft would be impractical/too costly.

For instance, there was an SR-71 (i forget the real designation) designed to carry the Pheonix missle system. Surely a stealthy Mach 3.2+ interceptor would be the best at doing it's job (intercepting and killing soviet nuclear bombers). However, because of the extreme cost and ungodly hours of service required to keep it flying, it just wasn't practical.

The same could be said of any super black revolutionary aircraft. If they are several billion dollars a piece ala the B-2, fielding the large numbers that the US military demands may not be obtainable, even with the unbelievable military budget the US enjoys. Just my thoughts though...



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 01:13 PM
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Originally posted by Off_The_Street
But technology is only a part of it, and if our actual technology were actually 40 years ahead of what "the public" sees, we wouldn't be spending billions upon billions of dollars of "obsolete" F-35s, F-22s, SU-37s, and B-2s.



Originally posted by waynos
Anyways, I agree with your post, how can anyone seriously think that aircraft and weapons already exist that are decades in advance of the stuff that America is spending BILLIONS on right now. Its absolutely ridiculous.


In answer to you both:
1.) Because it's cheaper, and it still gets the job done reliably. Seriously, if you have ever worked in any business, or ever waited months, or years, to wait for the price on some new gadget to drop, it should have already occurred to you. Hell, the Medical Databases in America are in such sad shape that most are still using paper filing systems, and those that ever moved to computers are still using the same 8088xts that they first used. Occasionally a really upscale Hospital might have gotten around to the 386 era of machines... but if it ain't broke, it don't get fixed, and it sure as heck doesn't get replaced.

If a decades old, outdated jet that cost 25 million (such as the F-16) can still take out a MIG just as well as a 1 billion dollar plane, why would they bother spending the extra 975 million dollars?

And for the record, the idea that our military is always equipped with the best and newest technology available is not only laughable, but shows a blatant ignorance of the real world that our brave fighting forces face every day. Did you not read the numerous articles in the news about how they are having to use scrap metal for body armor in Iraq?

2.) If you want proof of my statements about the SR-71 and the Stealth Jet, it is public record. Simply read "Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story" by Walter J. Boyne



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 01:13 PM
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I am not an American, boy how I wish I my country was spending the bucks on technology you guys are!

Secrecy was and has been and will always be part of the "BIG GAME" people play and the urge to be the BEST.

If you are working on classified stuff and you are caught telling, you are generally in big sh..., undoubtly one of the reasons for ATS existance.



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 01:14 PM
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Yeah AMM, I kind of see your point, but wouldn't you agree that it boils down to the same thing? Trying to illustrate my point with your own example, If it was economically and militarily practical to field the F-12A then it would have been fielded but instead the F-15 was the best fighter that could possibly be deployed in large numbers with te USAF, all things considered. However there is no way that hundreds of F-12's would suddenly appear in service if war had broken out as, even with cost constraints removed the USAF was still, for all practical purposes, better off with the F-15, even though the F-12 was 500 mph faster and carried Phoenix's it was far too demanding and specialised.

Likewise, if these hypersonic anti grav fighters (just for an example, I know no-one said this) are being developed, which is possible, they wouldn't be held back from actual service if they were capable of it as, if war broke out, they would be of no use whatsoever as no-one would be able to use them.

Does that make sense as I feel I haven't put this across very well.



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 01:22 PM
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If a decades old, outdated jet that cost 25 million (such as the F-16) can still take out a MIG just as well as a 1 billion dollar plane, why would they bother spending the extra 975 million dollars?


So why throw away the F-15 and F-16 and buy the F-22 AND F-35 that you know you can better and are also VERY expensive in the case of the former, why not just publically buy an 'F-15G' and an 'F-16E'?


And for the record, the idea that our military is always equipped with the best and newest technology available is not only laughable, but shows a blatant ignorance of the real world that our brave fighting forces face every day. Did you not read the numerous articles in the news about how they are having to use scrap metal for body armor in Iraq?


That is not what I said, I was talking about when new equipment is introduced in the context of the discussion about ultra advanced secret aircraft being held back from service to maintain secrecy.

The 'total secrecy' or black veil surrounds prototypes and research, not fully developed hardware, with the probable exception of specialised types like the TR-3 and Aurora which are not standard combat types .


[edit on 9-12-2004 by waynos]



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 01:47 PM
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Waynos, I'll try to answer all your comments in one fell swoop, again, it comes down to business, and producability, and, of course, tactical advantage...

...on second thought, I've got 5 minutes left at work, so instead I'll just say that you don't have to believe me, and I'll gain nothing more by proving it. If facts and figures and a nice handy book stating the truth, written by the defense contractors themselves, isn't enough to convince you, then nothing I say will.

If you honestly want to understand, then go back and reread each of my previous responses in this thread very carefully, and any further questions can be deduced by logic.



posted on Dec, 9 2004 @ 05:14 PM
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You don't have to patronise me, I understand perfectly what you are saying, I just happen to disagree with it. Firstly, I was not referring to the SR-71 or Aurora or any other specialised black 'spy' programme, nor am I talking about long term research. Obviously these things are going on and obviously they cover areas we can only dream about. I was talking about front line combat aircraft.

If you think that the USA has already surpassed the capabilities of the F-22 and F-35, by what, 40 years? but they are keeping it secret while they spend the next decade acquiring Raptors at $250m a pop and waiting a decade before even deploying the F-35 then you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

Say you are correct, just for the moment, and things take a turn for the worse in 'the east' and America suddenly finds itself at war, right now, with a nation capable of meeting the F-15 on relatively equal terms, humour me.

you have what 40 Raptors engaged on conversion training and no F-35's whatsoever but your enemy has 450 Super Flankers, with your combined forces you would probably win but you can't be certain.

Your super advanced hidden jets that would win for sure if deployed with the squadrons are of what use to you exactly?

Keep dreaming buddy



posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 06:14 AM
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Knowledge is power, therefore the less the enemy knows about you, the better.



posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 06:21 AM
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Originally posted by Cjwinnit
Knowledge is power, therefore the less the enemy knows about you, the better.


Thanks to you now we know.



The Enemy.



posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 09:34 AM
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Originally posted by waynos
If you think that the USA has already surpassed the capabilities of the F-22 and F-35, by what, 40 years? but they are keeping it secret while they spend the next decade acquiring Raptors at $250m a pop and waiting a decade before even deploying the F-35 then you are living in cloud cuckoo land.


While if we have already advanced by 40 years, how expensive do you think those planes are? If we cancell the current white programs and put black programs instead, if you think that the current programs are expensive get ready for a big gapping hole in your pocket to the government. These technologies while cutting edge are realtively new and expensive. Why do you think the F-117 was not put in place of the f-16? The F-117 was as expensive as the F-15, but it reused 80% of the systems from other planes, only its stealth and laser designators could be said as unique. which brings me to another point, by developing a large oerational plane in secret secrecy would become very hard, or if you follow the example of the F-117 it would also have tons of obsolete parts.



posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 10:12 AM
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While if we have already advanced by 40 years, how expensive do you think those planes are?


Yes, if it were true, they will be be more expensive. But that doesn't answer my question of why buy the F-22 at all? There is no getting away from the fact that it is vastly expensive, this makes some sense if it is the worlds finest fighter but if its nothing more than a grand decoy, as this argument suggests, then deploying the F-15 ACTIVE as the 'F-15G Super Eagle' or whatever would achieve the same result leaving even more cash for the secret research would it not? Why spend all that time and money turning the YF-22 into the very different F/A-22A? It makes no sense.

Another question looms; If, keeping to the numbers quoted previously, US tech is already 40 years further on than the F-22 and F-35, why the great difficulty in getting these types into service? Surely they could be knocked together in a weekend, if your tech is so far in front already? And yet we have seen repeated delays with the F-22 and we are going to have to wait until about 2014 to see the F-35 in service despite the fact that it has been public knowledge for years. Do you see where the argument is falling apart? Oh, thats right its all part of the game isn't it



Why do you think the F-117 was not put in place of the f-16?


How about the fact that it was too slow, decidedly un-agile and too lightly armed to replace one of the worlds truly great combat aircraft?

The F-117 is a good example of keeping something secret, it existed for years before anyone had an inkling that it was out there and although its existence was widely known from 1981 onwards nobody knew what it looked like at all for the next seven years when the USAF itself finally showed it.

This proves my point as the F-117 is not a mainstream combat type, only 59 or thereabouts were ever produced, it was highly specialised and used in support of standard forces, not because it was too expensive but because, by its specialised nature, was too limited to operate in a wider role, ie F-16 replacement.



posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 10:17 AM
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Originally posted by waynos
You don't have to patronise me, I understand perfectly what you are saying, I just happen to disagree with it. Firstly, I was not referring to the SR-71 or Aurora or any other specialised black 'spy' programme, nor am I talking about long term research. Obviously these things are going on and obviously they cover areas we can only dream about. I was talking about front line combat aircraft.


Okay, back at work, with several hours to kill...
Firstly, I wasn't patronizing you, I was admitting that I had neither the time nor the interest enough to convince someone who didn't want to be convinced.
Secondly, I didn't realize you were talking strictly fighter jets... I agree, those are a whole new ball game. Fighter jets, by nature, are going to be a lot harder to hide because:


  • They require larger production facilities, because there is combat power in numbers.
  • They will be seen, because they are in combat.
  • At some point in time, one will be shot down, and the wreckage likely retrieved by the enemy.
  • Defense contracts from around the world will require advertising.


So, I would agree, we most likely do not have secret bases with any serviceable amount of top secret fighter jets. The sheer number of resources required to create them would be noticable.

However, spy-plane technology can often have combat applications as well. And while we may not be 40 years advanced in our prototype fighter craft, I would say that certain individual technologies are roughly 40 years (give or take 10) ahead of the most advanced features on the JSF. Such as particular weapon types, or wingskins.

I must concede, though, that the biggest problem lies in trying to find a way to combine these technologies into a working jet, and finding an applicable use for them. Problems such as excess heat, weight, wind shear, power source, available power, and so forth have to be perfected down to very exacting specifications.

Take for example, Boeing's proposed X-Plane, the X-32A, which was the competitor to Lockheed-Martin's X-35 (now the JSF). Boeing had this really cool stuff called Thermoplastic that they tried to make a wingskin out of. Thermoplastic is this really nifty stuff that has a lot of potential for a lot of things, only people aren't really quite sure how to succesfully apply it to airplanes yet. Anyway, the wingskin failed miserably, so they had to go with older, more workable technology.

So there is another answer in regards to tech: sometimes you have higher technology available, but the older technology gets used instead because they can't figure out how to use the newer tech in a pratical fashion, or is dependant on other tech not working yet.

Another good example is HEW Laser Weaponry for Fighter Craft, something I had the honor and pleasure of attending a seminar on this by Mike Jones of Lockheed. From what I understand of the presentation, we've got lasers, ready to use, and they'd make incredibly good weapons for both defense and offense. Not because you can rip through aircraft or missiles, but because using the lasers, you can heat them up to the point where their heat-tolerance threshold is exceeded and the craft is disabled. Now in the JSF, they know how to put the lasers in, they have the lasers, they have a power source for them, and they even have a heat dump thanks to the vertical fan design...

...but the problem comes down to a targeting device. When dealing with thousands of feet of atmosphere, plus the chaotic air conditions created by the plane's natural envelope, the targeting radius is still neither stable or narrow enough to make HEW Lasers an effective weapon--yet.

Regardless, what will be the forefront of fighter jets is not going to be the most cutting edge technology. It will most-likely even be outdated by the time the airplane hits the first generation production lines, because tech changes daily. Additionally, there might be parts whose design is 20 years old, just because the newer designs just don't mock-up in an acceptable fashion. What you end up with, is a hybrid of very obsolete, and newly obsolete planes, by the time you have a large enough number of them to create a fighting force.

And the same is true with everything high-tech, including computers. As far as the computer hardware industry is concerned, tech in a Big Corporate R&D lab is roughly 7 years ahead of the point where you would see it on the shelf at CompUSA or Frye's.

So yes, I would venture to agree that we do not have secret bases filled with an appreciable force of fighting planes. In fact, most likely there is only 1 to 3 of any particular unused prototype jet, and even then, it may be little more than a mock-up, awaiting design changes, or some sort of tech for a specific part, or fuel that is not yet available.

However, I stand by my original claim that, as far as technology available to aerospace goes, (not whole-planes, but individual technologies), what you currently see publicly, as the height of aerospace tech, is probably, on average, 40 years behind what actual technology is available, in secret, and that there are most likely at least a couple of prototypes out there that we will not see for 40 years, if ever (because some other design might prove even better), because of cost, design, and other practical considerations.



posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 10:26 AM
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Just because someone MIGHT know your secret, doesn't mean you should assume that they do, and then announce it to the world. If you're confirming it to John Q Public, then you are of course also doing it for the enemy, or potential enemy as well...


Is your life really going to be enriched by knowing exactly what Mach speed it tops out at. etc.?

I'll probably be talking to pop at least once this Christmas...(he works on the Raptor in GA). If you'd like, U2U me with some questions. No promises, but I'll see what I can slip into the conversation (he loves to brag about that plane), and see what I can find for you, hehe....



However, I stand by my original claim that, as far as technology available to aerospace goes, (not whole-planes, but individual technologies), what you currently see publicly, as the height of aerospace tech, is probably, on average, 40 years behind what actual technology is available, in secret, and that there are most likely at least a couple of prototypes out there that we will not see for 40 years, if ever (because some other design might prove even better), because of cost, design, and other practical considerations.


That's pretty true, though I'd say 30 years, not 40.

Remember, the U2 was flying back in the early 50's, and the SR71 was being tested not too much later than that.


[edit on 10-12-2004 by Gazrok]



posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 11:20 AM
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Originally posted by waynos
[This proves my point as the F-117 is not a mainstream combat type, only 59 or thereabouts were ever produced, it was highly specialised and used in support of standard forces, not because it was too expensive but because, by its specialised nature, was too limited to operate in a wider role, ie F-16 replacement.


You just proved my point. While the new secret aircraft are light years ahead they only fill a specialized role. When they eventually come out their revolutions will eventually be integrated into the entire military like stealth, but right now its not needed save a specific reason.




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