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Another "F-117 Companion" thread and a bit of history!

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posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 07:20 AM
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This is purely based on speculation and shows a possibly(guess) history of the aircraft type that accompanied Nighthawk's on their bombing runs during the Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
We know about existance of such program because of many hints floating around here on ATS forum. It is clear that we only know 1/100 about all of this. Good idea would be make some conclusions by putting together dots.

Let's start...

Has anyone ever thought about the idea whether or not the Companion came before the F-117? Why wouldn’t it, if it wasn’t designed to compliment the F-117 in the first place?

Maybe Companion has the same roots as a F-117 Nighthawk? F-117 began with DARPA initiating the XST studies in 1974. They were looking at signature reductions because of what happened one year prior during the Yom Kippur War. The Israeli Air Force had a very hard time against the Soviet built SAM defenses and lost many aircraft. Facing an even worse environment in Europe, the USAF was looking at possible solutions.
One is obviously to build an aircraft capable of sneaking through the enemies air defense. This was the requirement the F-117 was built for, sneak it, deliver the ordnance, come back, no matter how heavily defended the target is.

But this approach wouldn’t be the first idea one comes up with thinking about how to handle the soviet air defense threat, would it? The more direct approach (and the one the Israelis sort of ended up choosing) would be the more obvious choice, wouldn’t it? Just build an aircraft/system capable of approaching the SAM sites to get in range to just take them out. The US already knew how to do this of course, their Wild Weasel units were hugely successful during the Vietnam War and they pretty much wrote the book on SEAD/DEAD.

Yet something very puzzling happened. Facing hundreds upon hundreds of soviet SAM installations in Europe, even after the 1973 wakeup call the USAF tagged its feet and converted a whooping 134 Phantoms for Wild Weasel missions when the original F-105F were faced out. Given the threat environment they were facing in Europe, you’d think you would see a dramatic expansion of Wild Weasel units after the IAFs experiences, but no. Modernization yes, expansion, no.
But on one hand the USAF was panicked enough to develop a stealth attack aircraft capable of penetrating soviet airspace and one the other they just didn’t do anything to directly handle the SAM threat? It just doesn’t add up.

So maybe this was the requirement the Companion was built to fulfill: SEAD/DEAD

Of course looking at the legacy of the Yom Kippur War and all those studies and programs to come out of it, the obvious first choice for the mission of the Companion wouldn’t be SEAD/DEAD, but something related to the emerging Battlefield Surveillance efforts, ie Assault Breaker, BSAX, Pave Mover, FOFA etc.

If the F-117 and the Companion were built at least within years of each other and flown together when the F-117 was still black – the Nighthawk went IOC in 83 and kept secret until 88 – I don’t really see any of the studies listed above could have produced an operational LO aircraft so revolutionary that is still relevant today.

Of course we have quotes posted by other members:
1.

The "companion" aircraft was pre 84 conceptually
There was Tacit Blue/BSAX from 83-86

2.

It also wasn't designed and built specifically to compliment the F-117 initially, so look to that for clues as to it's designation..

3.

From what I understand it was not originally designed for ECM, but it would make sense to use it for this.


To reiterate, while the ideas for Battlefield Surveillance where first developed during the Seventies (earlier than Assault Breaker even, Pave Mover efforts came out of the Vietnam War), the technology to combine ground imagining radar with LO observable aircrafts just wasn’t there.
They tried to do it with BSAX which essentially morphed into JSTARs. It may or may not have a black component too, but it didn’t materialize until the Nineties. Basically an 80s problem with a 90s solution. The Companion is an 80s solution for a 70s problem – IMO SEAD/DEAD is a good bet.


The F-117 was as basic as it gets. Navigation system, FLIR/DLIR, and possibly self lasing capability. It was great at getting in unseen, and hitting its targets, but that was all it could do. It had no self defense systems, of any kind, besides its stealth. It was incapable of SEAD/DEAD or anything else.


Classified Demonstrator?
Well, even Black Budget has its limits. There won't be any new projects if there is no money. We know that Companion was pre 84 conceptually.
Another guess appears.

Maybe a "classified advanced technology demonstration prototype" flew by Frank T. Birk at Groom Lake in August 1983 is just a Companion? Frank T. Birk flew two additional flights for envelope clearance, stability and control, and initial systems evaluation. For his work on the project, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots gave Birk the Lieutenant General Bobby Bond Memorial Aviator Award which "recognizes an AFSC military rated crew member for outstanding contribution to AFSC's test and evaluation mission while participating in aerial duties.


Companion design?
70's time isn't the best idea for smooth, rounded shapes with streamlined design. Just look at Have Blue design, it shows typically curved shapes:

Source: www.catholic.org...

I think it is isn't a bad idea to look closer on Lockheed VS-07 design. Maybe what we see as advertisments of the future is just a more streamlined design of the previous era Companion? :

Imagine more curved VS-07 design with variable-sweep wings... That has F-111 Aardvark successor wrote on it.



[…] excellent find! The vs-07 looks oddly familiar


Maybe not exactly like that, but maybe there is of one close to that


And of course there is former USAF worker quote:

It's actually kind of funny...it's on the internet today. Just the public doesn't know its real. It is different from the 117 in shape and size. It's not as diamondy (if i can make up a word) as the 117. And I would say that it's longer but the wing span is close to the 117


- VS07 looks slightly bigger and slightly different from F-117 from underneath – check
- Its not as diamondy – check
- Its probably longer – check
- Its wingspan is close – check
Matches perfectly.

We definately cannot say VS-07=Companion but a good guess would be that VS-07 doesn't appeared from nowhere but had predecessors



Source: www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com...

As I said in the first sentence is it purely based on speculation and guess work but what if it isn't just quite wrong? Some food for thoughts.
Nowadays, LRS-B would take Companion's duties so maybe Companion is used as testbed for new technologies currently? Again, some food for thoughts...

Let's solve the riddle!
Happy New Year, everyone!




posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 07:40 AM
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a reply to: SpeedFanatic

A Happy New Year to you also . A good thread with some good ideas there. I will throw my two pence worth in and suggest maybe something along the lines of Sneaky Pete/ A12 Avenger . I have no proof of these two ever flying of course, but those LO designs would be a good starting point as well for the time line.

aviationintel.com...

And a Happy New Year to all ATS members



edit on 212018 by nelloh62 because: spelling



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 07:44 AM
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Alright excuse the reply, mainly replying to keep an eye on the thread as the subject really interests me. I do have a few questions sorry if they have been covered in previous 'companion' threads.

Do we know we know if the companion is unmanned or not?
I'm unsure on the numbers of F-117s used in the first Gulf war but I wonder how many F-117s the companion provided for?

I'm assuming the companion was an electronic warfare platform, so unlike how the Buccaneers of the RAF aided the Tornados into laser designating targets in the first Gulf war the companion was there to jam/disable enemy equipment.
Sorry if this reply means absolute rubbish to everyone the fact that the F-117 where highly secret even during the Gulf War, but to have an even more secret aircraft aiding it really fascinates me

Will enjoy reading people's input to this.



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 08:44 AM
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I'd love for the companion to have existed but why are we working under the assumption that it's 100% real?



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 08:44 AM
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if its old and isnt declassified yet
then it doesnt exists
very simple



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 10:07 AM
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a reply to: PhantomTwo
We assume the Companion is 100% real beacause we have four reputable forum members including a former Boomer Operator confirming it. Some even have (seen) pictures of it.

a reply to: ThePeaceMaker
The Companion only picked up EW after the Sparkvarks were retired acc to Zaphod. Its original mission was something else, not related to the Companion at all as SpeedFanatic showed.
Its almost certainly manned.

a reply to: nelloh62
The Companion isnt triangle shaped to being with, Sneaky Pete wasnt stealthy enough to be relevant today and came too late to be related to the Companion. So no.


edit on 2-1-2018 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 10:32 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

I was going to post pretty much everything you've said and agree 100% with everything you say. I was also going to suggest to the author of the thread to look for posts made by boomer135 and Zaphod even though neither poster confirms anything about the companion.



edit on 2-1-2018 by Kurokage because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 10:55 AM
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originally posted by: Kurokage
a reply to: mightmight

I was going to post pretty much everything you've said and agree 100% with everything you say. I was also going to suggest to the author of the thread to look for posts made by boomer135 and Zaphod even though neither poster confirms anything about the companion.




This would be a good place to start.

Boomer135 has a pic in his personal collection that will not ever see the light of day unless it gets declassified.
edit on 212018 by spaceman42 because: because I can



I agree with alot of SpeedFanatic's post, and much appreciat the effort and research.
I am wondering if it has definitely been established that the companion was also Lockheed? There have been many threads on the companion offering some compelling reasons for it not being Lockheed. Bus as far as I know nobody has confirmed or denied it being a Lockheed product.

Also a stealthy airplane with variable sweep wings in the 70's? I don't think 'they' know how to do that even now.
Maybe the shape is similar to the VS-07. There have been some hints in older threads to there being something out there looking alot like it.
The alternative is an aircraft with a very primitive stealth design. Maybe even a smooth design. Horrible stealth compared to modern designs, but still good enough against cold war era Soviet designed AA radar that is in plenty use in places the U.S. fights and still very good at its 'companion' job. That might explain its long life.


Looking foward to the replies


edit on 212018 by spaceman42 because: because I can

edit on 212018 by spaceman42 because: because I can

edit on 212018 by spaceman42 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 12:05 PM
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I remember us discussing this a while ago.

I was thinking that it's shape was something like above. but not exactly.



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 12:14 PM
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originally posted by: grey580
I remember us discussing this a while ago.
I was thinking that it's shape was something like above. but not exactly.


Boomer135 is quoted saying: "The F-117s replacement is a unique shape I've yet to see on any aircraft since...."
in this thread so almost certainly not a triangle.



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 12:18 PM
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a reply to: spaceman42

hrmm......

I bet it's probably like this.




posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 01:25 PM
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I think Boomer135 was the only person that seen Companion. Few other members could seen pictures of it. I also going to say that it definately wasn't built for very high speed. It wasn't/isn't JP-7 guzzler.

Still wonder on what altitude it could operate at? My best guess would be a little higher than F-117 but not much higher. I also heard a rumor that Companion isn't stationed in the USA now.(Who could keep such a deep black secret bird, maybe UK?) The rumors I heard were that it is hidden somewhere in Europe. Couldn't get more info.



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 01:36 PM
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That second to last picture looks remarkably similar to the Avenger II design / prototype.

Makes you wonder if there was a second technology oriented prototype that was produced with a faster flight envelope for SEAD/DEAD, however during testing its usable capacity/lifespan just wasn't sufficient enough to warrant further development when going up against the F117.

Something size wise longer and sleeker than the F117 (aerodynamic forces at M+), immensely smaller payload due to the fuel requirements, and either dash or super-cruise capacity. Maybe F117 was the cheaper of the two per aircraft, regardless of development costs (assuming relatively shared?)



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 01:40 PM
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originally posted by: spaceman42

originally posted by: grey580
I remember us discussing this a while ago.
I was thinking that it's shape was something like above. but not exactly.


Boomer135 is quoted saying: "The F-117s replacement is a unique shape I've yet to see on any aircraft since...."
in this thread so almost certainly not a triangle.


He flat out said its not triangle shaped:
www.abovetopsecret.com...
the companion for the f-117 is not a triangle aircraft

People really need to pick up on this. No relation to the usual suspects like Avenger and Sneaky Pete. Also keep in mind, those late Eighties, early Ninties projects are much too young for the companion. The Companion was flying with the F-117 when it was still black, they were built wihin years of each other. THis means to quote EBJet, The Companion - which was never specifically built to play the Companion! - was a pre 1984 craft.

It also DOES NOT use shaped stealth like Tacit Blue:
www.abovetopsecret.com...
Everyone interested should check out the VS-07 thread. Boomer135 dropped some very revealing hints too many are just to quick to ignore. I really dont get this.

As for the Companion not being an Lockheed craft - those in the know usually point somewhere else:


originally posted by: Barnalby
a reply to: Zaphod58

So you're saying the companion was/is a stealth A2A/Wild Weasel/ECM craft NOT built by Lockheed, and there was a "missing link" between the Tacit Blue and the YF-23, but they weren't the same aircraft?


Maybe it *was* a Boeing-built evolution of the Quiet Bird



originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: Barnalby

I have said what I said and that's what I said.


And an outside source:


originally posted by: Tyler Rogoway (he too talked to Boomer at some point)

The reality is that there was almost certainly an operational aircraft flying the RF-117s exact same mission at the time, albeit in small numbers, and that aircraft was most likely produced by Lockheed’s biggest stealth competitor, Northrop.

aviationintel.com...

edit on 2-1-2018 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 01:57 PM
link   

originally posted by: SpeedFanatic
This is purely based on speculation and shows a possibly(guess) history of the aircraft type that accompanied Nighthawk's on their bombing runs during the Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
We know about existance of such program because of many hints floating around here on ATS forum. It is clear that we only know 1/100 about all of this. Good idea would be make some conclusions by putting together dots.

Let's start...

Has anyone ever thought about the idea whether or not the Companion came before the F-117? Why wouldn’t it, if it wasn’t designed to compliment the F-117 in the first place?

Maybe Companion has the same roots as a F-117 Nighthawk? F-117 began with DARPA initiating the XST studies in 1974. They were looking at signature reductions because of what happened one year prior during the Yom Kippur War. The Israeli Air Force had a very hard time against the Soviet built SAM defenses and lost many aircraft. Facing an even worse environment in Europe, the USAF was looking at possible solutions.
One is obviously to build an aircraft capable of sneaking through the enemies air defense. This was the requirement the F-117 was built for, sneak it, deliver the ordnance, come back, no matter how heavily defended the target is.

But this approach wouldn’t be the first idea one comes up with thinking about how to handle the soviet air defense threat, would it? The more direct approach (and the one the Israelis sort of ended up choosing) would be the more obvious choice, wouldn’t it? Just build an aircraft/system capable of approaching the SAM sites to get in range to just take them out. The US already knew how to do this of course, their Wild Weasel units were hugely successful during the Vietnam War and they pretty much wrote the book on SEAD/DEAD.

Yet something very puzzling happened. Facing hundreds upon hundreds of soviet SAM installations in Europe, even after the 1973 wakeup call the USAF tagged its feet and converted a whooping 134 Phantoms for Wild Weasel missions when the original F-105F were faced out. Given the threat environment they were facing in Europe, you’d think you would see a dramatic expansion of Wild Weasel units after the IAFs experiences, but no. Modernization yes, expansion, no.
But on one hand the USAF was panicked enough to develop a stealth attack aircraft capable of penetrating soviet airspace and one the other they just didn’t do anything to directly handle the SAM threat? It just doesn’t add up.

So maybe this was the requirement the Companion was built to fulfill: SEAD/DEAD

Of course looking at the legacy of the Yom Kippur War and all those studies and programs to come out of it, the obvious first choice for the mission of the Companion wouldn’t be SEAD/DEAD, but something related to the emerging Battlefield Surveillance efforts, ie Assault Breaker, BSAX, Pave Mover, FOFA etc.

If the F-117 and the Companion were built at least within years of each other and flown together when the F-117 was still black – the Nighthawk went IOC in 83 and kept secret until 88 – I don’t really see any of the studies listed above could have produced an operational LO aircraft so revolutionary that is still relevant today.

Of course we have quotes posted by other members:
1.

The "companion" aircraft was pre 84 conceptually
There was Tacit Blue/BSAX from 83-86

2.

It also wasn't designed and built specifically to compliment the F-117 initially, so look to that for clues as to it's designation..

3.

From what I understand it was not originally designed for ECM, but it would make sense to use it for this.


To reiterate, while the ideas for Battlefield Surveillance where first developed during the Seventies (earlier than Assault Breaker even, Pave Mover efforts came out of the Vietnam War), the technology to combine ground imagining radar with LO observable aircrafts just wasn’t there.
They tried to do it with BSAX which essentially morphed into JSTARs. It may or may not have a black component too, but it didn’t materialize until the Nineties. Basically an 80s problem with a 90s solution. The Companion is an 80s solution for a 70s problem – IMO SEAD/DEAD is a good bet.


The F-117 was as basic as it gets. Navigation system, FLIR/DLIR, and possibly self lasing capability. It was great at getting in unseen, and hitting its targets, but that was all it could do. It had no self defense systems, of any kind, besides its stealth. It was incapable of SEAD/DEAD or anything else.


Classified Demonstrator?
Well, even Black Budget has its limits. There won't be any new projects if there is no money. We know that Companion was pre 84 conceptually.
Another guess appears.

Maybe a "classified advanced technology demonstration prototype" flew by Frank T. Birk at Groom Lake in August 1983 is just a Companion? Frank T. Birk flew two additional flights for envelope clearance, stability and control, and initial systems evaluation. For his work on the project, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots gave Birk the Lieutenant General Bobby Bond Memorial Aviator Award which "recognizes an AFSC military rated crew member for outstanding contribution to AFSC's test and evaluation mission while participating in aerial duties.


Companion design?
70's time isn't the best idea for smooth, rounded shapes with streamlined design. Just look at Have Blue design, it shows typically curved shapes:

Source: www.catholic.org...

I think it is isn't a bad idea to look closer on Lockheed VS-07 design. Maybe what we see as advertisments of the future is just a more streamlined design of the previous era Companion? :

Imagine more curved VS-07 design with variable-sweep wings... That has F-111 Aardvark successor wrote on it.



[…] excellent find! The vs-07 looks oddly familiar


Maybe not exactly like that, but maybe there is of one close to that


And of course there is former USAF worker quote:

It's actually kind of funny...it's on the internet today. Just the public doesn't know its real. It is different from the 117 in shape and size. It's not as diamondy (if i can make up a word) as the 117. And I would say that it's longer but the wing span is close to the 117


- VS07 looks slightly bigger and slightly different from F-117 from underneath – check
- Its not as diamondy – check
- Its probably longer – check
- Its wingspan is close – check
Matches perfectly.

We definately cannot say VS-07=Companion but a good guess would be that VS-07 doesn't appeared from nowhere but had predecessors



Source: www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com...

As I said in the first sentence is it purely based on speculation and guess work but what if it isn't just quite wrong? Some food for thoughts.
Nowadays, LRS-B would take Companion's duties so maybe Companion is used as testbed for new technologies currently? Again, some food for thoughts...

Let's solve the riddle!
Happy New Year, everyone!


I think I've seen one of these.

Happy New Year



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 02:10 PM
link   

originally posted by: SpeedFanatic
I think Boomer135 was the only person that seen Companion. Few other members could seen pictures of it. I also going to say that it definately wasn't built for very high speed. It wasn't/isn't JP-7 guzzler.

Still wonder on what altitude it could operate at? My best guess would be a little higher than F-117 but not much higher. I also heard a rumor that Companion isn't stationed in the USA now.(Who could keep such a deep black secret bird, maybe UK?) The rumors I heard were that it is hidden somewhere in Europe. Couldn't get more info.





My sighting was in the UK. I've mentioned it here before back in October. My sighting was the last week of September on the North Coast of Cornwall. Low, fast and silent, a black plane slipped over my head from the Atlantic Ocean. It had a large strobe so I know it was human tech. It crossed my slightly limited horizon in a few seconds and again, it was completely silent.

Could be the companion.



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 02:35 PM
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a reply to: Wide-Eyes
Well

The UK does come up alot in relation to the Companion.
There is an old (1989 old) AW reference pointing out a quieter engine acoustic signature: aviationweek.com...
And we know from Boomer that its painted black.




posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 03:06 PM
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Anyone think this companion aircraft is still operational? or "retired" and strictly used for testing the development of newer systems (both denial and tracking).

Sounds like reconnaissance was its primary goal before, during, and after airstrikes. A long term loiter platform with reasonable speed in order to defend itself and to target acquisition before sending in the munitions carriers?

something along the lines of the F-111 aardvark, without the weapons capacity, therefore smaller in size.

General Dynamics is very well capable of producing an in-house aircraft including all the subsystems needed for development. (could they be considered as a possible candidate who built the companion aircraft?)



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 03:08 PM
link   

originally posted by: mightmight
a reply to: Wide-Eyes
Well

The UK does come up alot in relation to the Companion.
There is an old (1989 old) AW reference pointing out a quieter engine acoustic signature: aviationweek.com...
And we know from Boomer that its painted black.



Yes, the wing tips had unusual glowing lights.



posted on Jan, 2 2018 @ 03:14 PM
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a reply to: BoutThere

It was operational as late as the late 90s, into the early 2000s.



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