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What Happened With Senior Prom?

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posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 06:17 PM
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I know. I know: the project name. I didn't pick it. The USAF did. 40 years ago or more.

When the US found[1] the paper by the Russian physicist describing how to model radar frequency cross sections of objects, the US interest and capability for stealth aircraft leapt forward immensely. The US had long been interested in radar absorbing materials and even stealth aircraft. However, the results were not great and there were serious challenges with getting the returns just right. However, the paper played beautifully into the US advantages with computing capabilities: the Soviets couldn't model the RF returns on the computers they had. The US could. The Have Blue project to build a stealthy aircraft was born.

And as we know, it was a wild success with the follow-on being the F-117.

The US wasn't working on the F-117. It did several stealth aircraft at the time, taking advantage of the rapidly advancing computing capabilities and other technologies the US had long been working on and were perfect for stealth aircraft (flying wings, for example). One of those projects was Senior Prom[2].

I know. I know. I didn't pick the name. The USAF did. 40 years ago. Deal.



Senior Prom was a project to try to adapt the Have Blue technology into a cruise missile. A miniature version of the Have Blue airframe was test flown and several test articles were built. Many, like the picture were flown attached to BUFFs (B-52s for those of you nonAvGeeks) in a captive carry and reportedly several were outright flown.

The officially project was scrapped even though it was technically successful. There were some issues.

The first was the bauplan of the Senior Prom missile was incompatible with the internal bays of the bomber fleet. The missile as you can see was patterned off the Have Blue and therefore NOT a nice fit like a standard cruise missile. In fact, the AGM-129 stealthy cruise missile[3] was developed instead. The AGM-129 has a standard bauplan and could fit, despite its stealthy design, in the bomb bays of the bombers.

Second was cost. It was rumored to be significantly more expensive than the missiles it would be replacing, making it untenable as a replacement for the ALCM. In a bit of irony, the AGm-129 which was going to be cheaper ended up going through the procurement death spiral and became too expensive to do a complete replacement of the cruise missiles in the USAF inventory.

That would seem to be that. Senior Prom died, as so many other aircraft projects did.

Or did it?

Six airframes were made. They flew. Some have stated they were turned into UAVs. Or follow-on airframes were.

American UAVs of the timeframe were relatively primitive compared to those started in the 1990s. Take a look at the Lockheed Aquila[4] as an example. And it's associated control station[5]. It's entirely possible there was a preprogrammed UAV, much like the D-21 was, that flew at that time frame, but it's limitations might have been too great and the risk of loss of the stealth tech too much for real life use.

On the other hand...what if...

There was a pet aircraft that folks here love to talk about. And the original Have Blue was stealthier than the F-117. Perhaps. Maybe. The fruit of Senior Prom might have been the companion on dates with the F-117? It would fit with the timeframe and numbering scheme thrown around on here and elsewhere for that aircraft.

Perhaps.

Maybe.

Makes you wonder...

1. This is exactly why I say not underestimating your enemy is a big deal. The Russkis had the science, but lack crucial bits. Who is to say the Chinese won't have it as well?

2. en.wikipedia.org...

3. www.thedrive.com...

4. en.wikipedia.org...

5. www.youtube.com...




posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 06:24 PM
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What a twist, so the F-117 companion was a drone.



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 06:28 PM
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a reply to: E92M3

No, it may have been, or evolved from one.



posted on Dec, 9 2019 @ 09:12 PM
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Nothing like bringing your own DJ to the party who can help generate some noise lol.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 12:56 AM
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originally posted by: anzha


Perhaps.

Maybe.

Makes you wonder...



Great writeup - but why not just modify F-117s instead of bothering with an UAV variant. The other aircraft came from somewhere else. UAV origins? Maybe.
edit on 10-12-2019 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 08:55 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

Might have said this before, wouldn't it be funny if it just looks like a regular F-117 to the casual eye but it's loaded with sensors and what not. Sorry to stray off-topic.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 09:27 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

Thanx. It needed another pass on editing, but I'm pressed for time these days.

It would make sense from the POV for logistics for the companion to be a modified 117. However, if the intent was to make a small batch of VERY stealthy aircraft, returning to a design closer to the Have Blue would be better. Hence, my navel gazing on Senior Prom.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 10:00 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Ah, so it could resemble a follow-on to the Have Blue, based off of design validation from Senior Prom? A giant Have Blue would be something to see.

a reply to: anzha
The companion being a Have Blue descendant would also mesh with the comments from Iraq 1 and 2 aircrews of "don't say anything about the pointy airplane on the tarmac"
edit on 10-12-2019 by Barnalby because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 01:21 PM
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Wrong tree.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 02:24 PM
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originally posted by: RadioRobert
Wrong tree.


BSAX...?



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 09:37 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

I'm wildly skeptical there's any tree to bark up at all.



posted on Dec, 10 2019 @ 09:51 PM
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originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: RadioRobert

I'm wildly skeptical there's any tree to bark up at all.


Thats my whole issue with 'The Companion" and for the record I am a skeptic that it existed at all and at best its a red herring dangled for us to run circles around.

If you had a UAV version of the F-117 despite the decided lack of evidence even supporting that level of sophistication, why then if it was sophiticated enough to be a loyal wingman, designate targets etc for the NightHawk, why bother with manned missions at all?

Im going to go with the simple explanation. LockMart realizing they had a revolutionary breakthrough tried to use the design to maximize revenue. Hence the missile, hence the Sea Shadow et al. They tried to facet everything.............But as you OP pointed out carriage internal was iffy and in that time frame, it was not covert to hang it from external pylons for the world to see



posted on Dec, 12 2019 @ 04:40 AM
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No way the companion (if it exists) was a UAV, we are talking dial up internet and rudimentary GPS during that period, the US were using Walleye TV guidance not GPS as much.

Also, my recollection was the comment “don’t look at the pointy things” or whatever was from our own member Boomer, not to say it wasn’t true, but it is used above as a phrase heard by many, I may be wrong but I think it was just ATS hearing Boomer.



posted on Dec, 12 2019 @ 10:47 AM
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a reply to: E92M3

According to a post from many moons ago.

The companion had a different form from anything else flying.



posted on Dec, 12 2019 @ 10:49 AM
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a reply to: FredT

Apparently someone posted that they refueled one if I'm not mistaken.

That post is here on ATS somewhere.



posted on Dec, 12 2019 @ 10:51 AM
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a reply to: grey580

Respectfully, again, not really convinced the Companion (as described) exists. Wildly skeptical there is anything still operational from that era that is stealthy.



posted on Dec, 12 2019 @ 11:16 AM
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a reply to: anzha

there are stealth missiles like this that are still classified but known about


side not imagine being able to launch a small manned or un manned platform that could sneak into an area and set targets and do BDA.

more than likely it would be missed and hidden by stealthy and have the ability to direct air strikes, like an airborne forward controller



here is an example HAVE DASH it started in 1990 and was said to have stopped at 1992(yeah right)

link to HAVE DASH


edit on 12-12-2019 by penroc3 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 12 2019 @ 12:00 PM
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a reply to: anzha

There is a lot of rumor about the aircraft. And the gist I got was that it was a EW platform.
Could it still be operational? I don't know. B-52's are still flying. But it's more than likely the aircraft is buried in a desert somewhere out west.



posted on Dec, 12 2019 @ 12:00 PM
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a reply to: penroc3

programs get started and canned all the time. Something 2 years in is really, barely started.



posted on Dec, 12 2019 @ 12:06 PM
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a reply to: Barnalby

Why did they not ever use the Have Blue design officially?



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