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The secret program to hide a secret program, as told by an F-14 RIO.

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posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 11:25 AM
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Came across this interesting story about the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron (Red Eagles) as told by an F-14 radar intercept officer (RIO) while training in the Nevada desert.
The 4477th TEC was a squadron of seized/purchased, mostly soviet, aircraft used for testing and training our pilots against, during the 1980's. They also happened to be stationed at the same base that was used for testing and development of another aircraft that would soon become famous.



Then my pilot, who was the squadron operations officer and senior to me, said something that struck me as curious: “I’ll bet Constant Peg isn’t the only thing going on at Tonopah,” he said. “There’s something else there they care about more than MiGs.”

I didn’t give the comment another thought until months later when the Air Force finally admitted that “the secret test aircraft” that had crashed in the middle of the Nevada desert in 1984 killing the pilot who also happened to be a three-star general – too senior for normal test flights – had actually been a MiG-23.

I asked my operations officer what he thought about the Air Force admission, and again he hinted at the idea that there was something else bigger going on a Tonopah. “They would’ve stuck with the original story otherwise,” he said. “I’m pretty sure they offered up the MiGs hoping the press would stop digging beyond that.” I asked him to put a finer point on the thought, but he just shrugged and said he didn’t know anything more.


The Secret Air Force Program That Hid an Even More Secret Air Force Program

The practice of using secret programs to hide or confuse the outside world of even more clandestine programs is something I believe is common place in the US defense apparatus. A perfect example of this is the story the Air Force fed to the media about why the retired F-117's are still seen flying.

It definitely makes our hobby more interesting to say the least.


It is interesting to note that even though the 4477th was officially disbanded in 1988 the practice of flying and testing foreign hardware is still alive and well today, as seen and photographed by members here. Current gen. MIG's nad SU's are still flown to train fighter Weapons School instructors, 422d Test and Evaluation Squadron aircrews and F-15 and F-16, "Aggressor" aircraft flying from Nellis AFB.


en.wikipedia.org...






edit on 3-1-2015 by Sammamishman because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 11:50 AM
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It's a natural cover story if people see a plane that doesn't look US made. Simply say it's foreign hardware in this program but classified and bam...no more digging.

It's getting harder and harder to cover up flight operations now.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 12:25 PM
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When he writes Tonopah do we read Groom Lake? I thought the Red Hat/Eagles were based at Groom. Certainly Have Drill, Have Doughnut and Have Ferry (all MiGs) were based at Area 51 in the 60s/70s.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 12:39 PM
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I recall that the Russian jets were given designations in the F-11# range, which may be why the F-117 was also numbered in this range. I also remember something about a test pilot writing about a so called YF-24 that had a link to these Russian Jets. Sorry my memory is quite vague on this bu the OP immediately called that back to my mind if it's of any help to anyone.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 12:48 PM
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a reply to: waynos

You are thinking of Col. Lanni. His resume was accidentally released with that in the list of aircraft flown.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 01:13 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I don't believe that the inclusion of the YF-24 in Lanni's bio was an accident. Previously, other official Air Force bios included various YF-110 and YF-113 designations. All of these are unclassified designations for classified aircraft. That's how it all got started back in 1968 with the Have Doughnut MiG-21 being designated YF-110B. Subsequently, it became standard practice at Groom Lake, and later Tonopah, to use such designations for "black projects" test aircraft on unclassified documents. This is why Senior Trend, Lockheed's "stealth fighter," was saddled with the F-117A designation. The pre-production prototypes flew at Area 51 under the designation YF-117A.

The Red Hats are still operating at Groom Lake. The Red Eagles initially operated at Groom, then moved to TTR and remained there until Constant Peg was terminated. I have seen evidence that the latest incarnation of the Red Eagles have been operating at Groom at least since the early 1990s.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 01:54 PM
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a reply to: Shadowhawk

What is (was) the difference between the Red Hats and Eagles?



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 03:22 PM
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a reply to: Shadowhawk

I didn't think so either until they came out with the story of it being the X-24 and it disappearing later.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 05:20 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I bet that's a well presented very professional resume, I wouldn`t mind getting a look at it for some pointers on formatting my own.


Edit: Did some sleuthing and it turns out the a Joe Lanni is also a director at Lockheed Martin corporation and from the profile at LinkedIn its the same man as the pics from the Edwards AFB website of Col Lanni`s final flight.
edit on 3-1-2015 by StratosFear because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 06:10 PM
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a reply to: gfad

The Red Hats are primarily responsible for technical evaluation of foreign aircraft: performance, stability and control, reliability and maintainability, systems, materials and construction, etc.

The Red Eagles are primarily responsible for tactical evaluation: air combat maneuvers, offensive and defensive tactics, strengths and vulnerabilities, etc.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 06:19 PM
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a reply to: Shadowhawk

My brother-in-law retired as a Col after starting out enlisted. After he retired I found out that when he was at Wright-Patterson he was involved in exploitation of foreign missile systems.



posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 07:47 PM
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posted on Jan, 3 2015 @ 10:57 PM
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a reply to: boomer135

Say boomer, did you take those shots?



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 12:54 AM
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originally posted by: Sammamishman
a reply to: boomer135

Say boomer, did you take those shots?



Or maybe he was just on """vacation""" in East Ukraine recently, doing some "consulting".

Are we really sure we know who "Boomer", I mean Alex, was all along?

www.airplane-pictures.net...

edit on 4-1-2015 by mbkennel because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 01:32 AM
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I remember a story once, sr71 pilots. Ah yes here it is...




“ASPEN 20” – SR-71 – Groundspeed Check

Author: Unknown
Source: Leslie


There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71 Blackbird (The Air Force/NASA super fast, highest flying reconnaissance jet, nicknamed, "The Sled"), but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane - intense, maybe, even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.


It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet. I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat.


There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn't match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him.


The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace. We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot who asked Center for a read-out of his ground speed. Center replied: “November Charlie 175, I'm showing you at ninety knots on the ground.”


Now the thing to understand about Center controllers was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the "Houston Center voice." I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country's space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that and that they basically did. And it didn't matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios. Just moments after the Cessna's inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed in Beech. “I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed.”


Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren. Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. “Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check.” Before Center could reply, I'm thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a read-out? Then I got it, ol' Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He's the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: “Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground.”


And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done - in mere seconds we'll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn. Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it - the click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: “Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?” There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request. “Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground.”


I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: “Ah, Center, much thanks, we're showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money.” For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A. came back with, “Roger that Aspen. Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one.”


It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day's work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 04:25 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: waynos

You are thinking of Col. Lanni. His resume was accidentally released with that in the list of aircraft flown.


Yes, that's it exactly, thanks.



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 04:28 PM
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originally posted by: Shadowhawk
a reply to: Zaphod58

I don't believe that the inclusion of the YF-24 in Lanni's bio was an accident. Previously, other official Air Force bios included various YF-110 and YF-113 designations. All of these are unclassified designations for classified aircraft. That's how it all got started back in 1968 with the Have Doughnut MiG-21 being designated YF-110B. Subsequently, it became standard practice at Groom Lake, and later Tonopah, to use such designations for "black projects" test aircraft on unclassified documents. This is why Senior Trend, Lockheed's "stealth fighter," was saddled with the F-117A designation. The pre-production prototypes flew at Area 51 under the designation YF-117A.

The Red Hats are still operating at Groom Lake. The Red Eagles initially operated at Groom, then moved to TTR and remained there until Constant Peg was terminated. I have seen evidence that the latest incarnation of the Red Eagles have been operating at Groom at least since the early 1990s.


IIRC the YF-110 was the F-4 Phantom before Air Force and navy designations were standardised in 1962. The other numbers in this sequence, except F-111 and F-117, are the Russian jets. Similarly the IAI Kfir was designated F-21 is US use.

Regarding the YF-110B, I'm guessing that would be similar to when in WW2, the P-59 was a prototype of a piston fighter, so Americas first jet was designated P-59A, despite having no relation to its predecessor.
edit on 4-1-2015 by waynos because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 04:36 PM
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a reply to: mikegrouchy

That was supposed to be Brian Shul and his RSO. IIRC it was in either Sled Driver or The Untouchables.
edit on 1/4/2015 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 05:32 PM
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a reply to: mikegrouchy

I really enjoyed reading that. : )

Thanks for posting.



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 06:32 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: mikegrouchy

That was supposed to be Brian Shul and his RSO. IIRC it was in either Sled Driver or The Untouchables.


True zap,but that made me smile from ear to ear though. That special feeling when you totally OWN the competition.




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