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PopSci Article on New Black Projects

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posted on Sep, 10 2006 @ 11:11 AM
Theres a new article written by Bill Sweetman on the Popular Science website. You can read it here. Its not very revelatory but offers some insights which I hadnt thought about before.

Firstly there is a clip of the latest satellite shot of Area 51 which as far as I know is not yet available anywhere on the web except in its highly compressed sample state.

(Point out the water on the lakebed to all those who talk about the Cheshire Airstrip)

Sweetman is essentially pushing four projects which he believes are being flown at Groom:
1. A stealthy STOVL military transport.

2. A high altitude recon UAV.
3. An interim stealthy ground attack craft until the JSF comes into force in 2014.
4. Aurora

I think number one is very likely yet his main evidence seems to be a Lockheed patent which I havnt seen. Number two is pretty obvious, with all the current UAV development I would be very suprised if this wasnt in R&D or even active operation. Number three Im not so sure about, although he points out that this could be a continuation of the A-12 Avenger program which is possible. Number four I hate, its a shame that Sweetman is still flogging the Aurora dead horse which apparently has transformed from a recon plane to ground attack, he basically states all we already know, skyquakes, Chris Gibson, budget gaps et al.

[edit on 10/9/06 by gfad]

posted on Sep, 10 2006 @ 01:38 PM
Nice link GFAD there are some really interesting pics on there.

I particularly like The Vehicle: Aurora Mach 6-plus attack aircraft cool.

posted on Sep, 10 2006 @ 01:52 PM
The STOVL looks like it might be somehow related to recent developements in Blended-wing-in-body (BWB) concepts. Could that lend credence to its possible existence as a real project?

As to the interest in high altitude UAV's, I know for a fact that at least the USAF was funding R&D in this area as late as 2-3 years ago; I've got pictures!

At the time, they refered to the project as a Near Space Manuevering Vehicle (NSMV). NSMV: Oh Lawdy! What would Freud say 'bout That?

posted on Sep, 10 2006 @ 09:44 PM
That VTOL project could probably explain lots of triangular light sightings, and with the ability to hover and change direction could be easily explained as a UFO

posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 07:13 AM
It's called Warplanes of Area 51! I got my copy of it in the mail yesterday evening. It a really good article on black projects. B.T.W. Did anybody else catch the part about a possible black project based on the cancelled A-12 Avenger II?

Based on what I've read, I'm willing to it bet many of these new aircraft have ties to Northop Grumman Advanced Systems Division, or Lockheed Maritn Skunk Works. Northrop Grumman would be my first guess because of their experits with flying wings, even though they didn't build the A-12.


posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 08:51 AM
Yeah I mentioned the bit about the A-12 II in my openning post.

I would really like something to come of that project, it definately was strange how they cancelled the project just a few weeks away from the end.

posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 12:52 PM
I was looking over the information posted about the A-12 follow-on concept. I know I'm going out on a little bit of limb here, but I have some theories about reasons it may be so secret:

1. Maybe it makes use of more advanced stealth technology, including daylight stealth(which was tested in the Bird of Prey demonstrator). If this is the case, we may have a stealth aircraft that can strike in daylight and escape unseen.

2. Maybe is committed to covert Special Op's support missions! Perhaps it's one of the so called "Silver Bullet" programs, a small force of highly specilized weapon systems commited to a covert mission such as providing CAS for Delta Force.

3. Perhaps it can also be used in some kind of reconnassance role.

Then again, who knows!


posted on Sep, 16 2006 @ 01:43 AM
Bill Sweetman must be getting very frustrated by now...he has been a premier guy on anything relating to the Aurora...He's gotta be dying that no new info about it has comes out in years.

The popsci article is good...But I think some of his assertions are a little off.
I think that USAF does have a high altitude stealthy recon aircraft...But I dont think they have...or will have a interim bomber that will come out between now and 2014. Thats just wishful thinking.

I think the Aurora does exist...But if it truly is a hypersonic aircraft that can carry a small bomb load...It will be many years yet before something like that would be unveiled.

Also...the new rendering of Aurora in the popsci article is a damn cool looking one.

posted on Sep, 17 2006 @ 05:16 PM
Hey folks,

I think I've just Identified one of the Top Secret UAV's in the article. While the ID isn't confirmed, the evidence seems strong. At the top of page 76, it shows a drawing of and talks about a stealthy, unmanned flying wing spy plane. The craft is described as being a solar-electric powered long duration surveillance platform.

Here the clencher! Anyone ever heard of the Hi ALtitude SOLar aircraft or HALSOL?

It origionally began with a Top Secret 1983 project. Aero Vironment was able to attract an unidentified costumer to sponsor the project (The CIA, NRO and Naval Research Labratory are all suspected costomers, but none have ever been confirmed). HALSOL is/was a pure black flying wing aircraft with a 98 ft. wing span. It was powered by 8 electric motars, that were connected to solar cells on top of the wing. Officially this project ended in 1983, however, it is known that the technology continued to evolve.


Based on the simularity in the discription of the two UAV's I believe that this new project is most likely a secret extention of the HALSOL program. Think about it, both are flying wing UAV's, that are solar powered and were/are flown from Groom Lake. Also in DARK EAGLES, Curtis Peebles mentions a still classified project called HELIOS, that was related to HALSOL.

I believe that this secret UAV mentioned in the Popular Science Article might be HELIOS. While I'm not positive, I see more then enough similarities to raise questions for the ATS community to look in to!

What do you all think?


posted on Sep, 17 2006 @ 09:50 PM
Your are right that Helios was an outgrowth of HALSOL, but it was never classified. Following tests at Groom Lake, HALSOL was placed in storage by Aerovironment Inc. It flew again as Pathfinder in the NASA Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program at Dryden Flight Research Center.

Pathfinder's wingspan was increased and the UAV was renamed Pathfinder Plus. The pathfinder tests were followed by Centurion, with an even wider span and Helios Prototype. The Helios UAV flew to nearly 100,000 feet. It was lost due to structural failure during a later test.

For more information:

posted on Sep, 18 2006 @ 04:27 AM

Originally posted by Shadowhawk
Your are right that Helios was an outgrowth of HALSOL, but it was never classified. Following tests at Groom Lake, HALSOL was placed in storage by Aerovironment Inc. It flew again as Pathfinder in the NASA Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program at Dryden Flight Research Center.

Two questions! If it wasn't classified, Why did it fly from Groom Lake? Second, how did it end up in the book Dark Eagles: A History of Top Secret U.S. Aircraft?

Thanks for the correction, I never relised the mistake!

Still, do you think these projects could have a link to a black project that is now flying?


posted on Sep, 18 2006 @ 11:07 AM
I said Helios was never classified.

Pathfinder (as HALSOL) was originally classified and flew from Groom Lake. It was shelved in the mid 1980s because the solar/electric technology was not yet mature.

The NASA ERAST program involved research into solar power generation and storage for UAVs.

posted on Sep, 18 2006 @ 04:00 PM
Sorry Shadowhawk, I misread your post!

Still, could their be a connection?


posted on Sep, 19 2006 @ 11:09 AM
I'm not sure if there were ever any "black" follow-on projects related to Pathfinder/Centurion/Helios. They certainly provided some useful data to NASA.

AeroVironment has worked on a number of other black project UAVs. The strangest one I saw was called the Broomstick. It flew after HALSOL and was a very different design.

posted on Sep, 19 2006 @ 12:49 PM

Originally posted by Shadowhawk
AeroVironment has worked on a number of other black project UAVs. The strangest one I saw was called the Broomstick.


Never heard of such a project! Sound intresting though. What is it? Where did you find it? Is there anything else you know about it? I would like to hear/learn more about it.


posted on Sep, 19 2006 @ 05:38 PM
I saw the Broomstick UAV at the AeroVironment facility in Simi Valley, California, in 2001. It was a straight flying wing with an unusually thick airfoil. There used to be a picture of it on the company's web site. It flew in 1990.

[edit on 4-1-2010 by Shadowhawk]

posted on Sep, 22 2006 @ 06:38 PM

Originally posted by Murcielago

Also...the new rendering of Aurora in the popsci article is a damn cool looking one.

I'll have one of those.....just remember to add the bar facilities and personal bedroom sometime in the next 2 weeks!!!

Talk about sleek and good looking

posted on Sep, 23 2006 @ 03:42 PM
DISCLAIMER:This post is PURE Speculation, but is base on my interpratation of known facts. I lay claim to ALL Oppinions stated here in and make no effort to confuse the facts with my oppinions! I use facts to support my points, but try to keep them seprate.

Back in Febuary 2000, Popular Science ran a cover story called B-3 and Beyond. In it they mentioned that the US Air Force was conducting the Future Strike Aircraft study. The objective of the program is to define a new long range bomber to replace the aging B-52 and other bomber as they age.

Here on ATS, there have been many discussions about future bombers and what they might be like. What if one of these new black project is the next US heavy bomber?

Why the secracy? Here's what I think:

The New bomber will be better design for a new strategy that has evolved since 2001. Until now, bombers were thought of and design as weapons to fly the SIOP as part of the nuclear deterrance fleet. After 2001, the military realized that SIOP and Nuclear Deterrance were left over from the cold war, and of much less use when faced with the current threat: Terrorism and Rouge States.

So, to make the bomber viable today, it needs to be equiped for this new threat. Here's what I think that might require:

* Long Range and Endurance- The next bomber won't be handed a pre-planned mission like today's aircraft. Commanders in the feild will need something that can be called on at a moment's notice like they did with A-10's and other CAS aircraft. however, they will need range and payload well beyond the stike fighters now in use.

* Payload- A large B-52 like payload will be built around new Smart Weapons. I see these new bomber being used to flush out terrorists in operations like Enduring Freedom and Anaconda. They will need smaller weapons but more of them.

* Stealth- B-2 like stealth isn't nessacary, but some LO features will be an asset to the mission. Visual and Acustic stealth would aid in loitering if attainable. Also, some penetrating capibility would allow the US to keep countries like NK, China, Iran, etc. in their places.

* Improved Sensors- the new types of targes require an aircraft with the ability to find and track much smaller and more mobil objects. Now, instead of a building or a bridge, you will be looking for caves, small groups traveling in horses or camels, or in vehicles, and small out posts in the mountains. This aircraft might even have some reconnassance capibility.

Base on all of this, I personally think the new bomber might be a stealthy flying wing design for high altitude flight. It might use extreemly quiet props possiblly solar/electric powered to boost range and endurance. I also see the plane carrying a very large payload of Small Diameter Bombs with improved capiblity for all weater precision. the Stealth will be more focused in the visual/acustic area, but still cover traditional areas for stealth (radar, IR, etc.) It may look simular to the concept for the unmanned Recon platform on page 76, but probable has a crew on board.



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