reply to post by gariac
Well that may just verify to us that Bill Clinton has been to Area 51 more than once.
Regarding the original post with the audio. I listened to it several times, thought this through a bit, and here's my analysis:
The dialogue appears almost rehearsed without any hiccup, corrections or surprises - indicating an unmanned aircraft. The timeline has been
compressed as clued by the cutouts and faint squelch sounds between test card times. The fast nature of the test card command to the operator/pilot
response may also indicate an automated aircraft that is run from a control station. It also appears they intend on post-processing the flight
telemetry data once back on the ground, as the timelines are too fast to analyze data real-time.
I would guess the requested 360 orbits are not for aircraft issues, but for a routine external issue such as prying eyes (JANET passengers, satellite
overpass). This would tell us the asset, or what it is carrying externally, is sight sensitive. There would seem to be more discussion on the air
during the orbit if it were due to onboard concerns. Or, perhaps they are flying the DYCOMS range and waiting for test personnel to catch up to the
test cards. Also, it may be the chase pilot is having trouble keeping up, keeping visual or heeding a collision warning from the EROS pod system with
the test article (FMI goo.gl...
The dialogue also seems to indicate this aircraft has a tail or canard, since a spanloader (flying wing configuration) would be ill-advised to trim in
pitch so quickly by > 10 degrees. Flying wings trim out at around CL = 0.6 or so and don't travel much through the ranges of pitch, except as a
response to changes in weight or dynamic pressure (slowing down/climbing). Those levels of AoA could put a spanloader into a stall and spin quickly.
The roll commands (i.e. to 15 deg) indicate there is an aileron component to this as well, as you would not be able to control this loop closely,
without these control surfaces. Also, flying wings don't have a vertical stabilizer, but rather split slot deflectors or elevons. These would not
seem to control the headings as precisely as needed to keep "card heading 072". This also indicates to me it is a UAV in operation. The lack of
strain in any of the voices, due to inertial loading (g's), may tip us off to the "pilot" who is really at the control station, sitting at a console,
and not in a cockpit.
Would they be checking stability and control data or GNC algorithm performance of the airframe at various conditions? Much of the latter can be run
in a 6-DoF simulation with GNC algorithms in the loop. Flight testing would just be verification of the 6-DoF at this point in development. Perhaps
what is more interesting is RCS of the aircraft. Could they be running an airframe past the DYCOMS base? Perhaps there is a way one could dead
reckon the ground path of the flight trajectory timeline, based on the dialogue in the audio. This would give us an idea of the location the test
cards, in relation to ground based testing areas such as DYCOMS.
This is not a missile as "stand by for ramp" and "RTB" indicate a CTOL aircraft, as a missile would unlikely recover in this way. Toward the end,
they mention "Clover 65 is to the northwest 10 miles...want to come straight in to runway 32" - Shouldn't they say they are 10 miles southeast wanting
to come into runway 32 heading northwest? This would put them inside R-4808 and indicate the location of their test flights. Also shows us they tend
to stay "inside the box" based on their quick dialogue since it is not a lot of space to run at 440 knots indicated. At that speed, you could travel
the length of R-4808 in 2.5 minutes. So, the rapid pace of the test cards would also support locating the test within R-4808. They say "runway 32"
at 14:28, indicating runway 32 at NCTF, which can be verified on sat images. Landing temp was 3 deg C - could look at past data and match up the day
it was that temp and during a new moon.
This is not a propeller driven aircraft. They seem to be running a turbine engine at subsonic speeds (M ~ 0.9 which is 440 kias at 15,500 ft MSL).
Based on discussion of gas levels and the indicated airspeeds requested. I think this may be a turbofan driven, canard or conventional configuration
aircraft with at least one vertical stabilizer. This would fit the description of the F-22, F-35 or a surrogate simulation platform by Calspan? At
6:14 one commenter says "one minute...#### looks good..." I could not make out what he's saying, but if we understood it, it may be a clue as to what
edit on 5-4-2012 by TAGBOARD because: 120405D