PHOTO: “Mystery UCAV” becomes “Mystery manned aircraft”?

drone 3.jpg

We had a slight mix-up yesterday, and posted the wrong “mystery UCAV” photo that appeared in Air & Cosmos magazine. It has been removed from this blog.

This is the correct photo, and it’s actually more interesting. I could be crazy, but I think I see a bubble canopy on this aircraft, which would seem to rule out the “UCAV” theory! The plot thickens …


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18 Responses to PHOTO: “Mystery UCAV” becomes “Mystery manned aircraft”?

  1. Dave 15 May, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    I don’t know, it’s hard to say with such a grainy out of focus image…it could be canopy, but it could be something else. I remember in the early 90s there were persistent reports of a triangular stealthy reconnaissance (manned) aircraft flying along side the F-117 out of Tonopah- allegedly the TR-3 or something. Perhaps this is it?

  2. Bud 15 May, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    Satellite antenna dome.

  3. Al 15 May, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    Looks like an inlet scoop – v-shaped considering the angle of the photo? I don’t see an inlet anywhere else in the photo unless it is a flush/low profile inlet.

  4. Generic Login 15 May, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    I can not get the picture to load. Just a litte ‘x’ in the corner. What gives?

  5. Stanger_in_a_Strange_Land 15 May, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

    Could as well be a saddle tank aka CFT.

  6. cr 15 May, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    Why can’t I see the photo?

  7. EG 15 May, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

    Apparently some of us lack sufficient clearance to view the photo. Maybe Mr. Trimble will declassify it for us mere peons.

  8. Rip 15 May, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    Home built constructed by three members of the Kandahar Aero Club.
    May be displayed at Oshkosh ’09.


  9. riff_raff 15 May, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    Looks suspiciously like the Polecat:

  10. cod 16 May, 2009 at 1:41 am #

  11. arclight 16 May, 2009 at 3:26 am #

    No, not the Polecat.
    By the wing design/shape, some critical ratios I’m very knowledgeable of, this has to be a UAV that is either based on the Boeing X-45C design or is the second X-45C test aircraft that was partially built when the program was lost (the X-45C that is being used for the Phantom Ray program announced last week was the 95% complete first aircraft). The bulge on top is most likely the intake just at funny angle optically or there is a remote possibly it’s a cockpit. There was a plan to modify one of the X-45C test planes to add a cockpit to help in test transitioning to carrier landings since the blue water navy was very likely going to be strongly opposed to initial testing on their carrier.

  12. rapier 18 May, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    Well …..
    As i said elsewhere ….. it’s our dear old Mickey Mouse flying his fantastic “Bat” …..

  13. Steve Douglass 19 May, 2009 at 12:32 am #

    The EXIF data on this image is interesting:

    Camera it was taken with is not listed (making me think the image might have been a scan of a print.

    Odd DPI size (399) also hints the image was not produced by a digital camera.
    The original image was also higher resolution and possibly was degraded to mask details.

    Here’s the EXIF data:\File name: drone 3.jpg
    File size: 1934644 bytes (493×326, 96.3bpp, 0x)
    EXIF Summary:

    Camera-Specific Properties:

    Camera Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows

    Image-Specific Properties:

    Image Orientation: Top, Left-Hand
    Horizontal Resolution: 399 dpi
    Vertical Resolution: 399 dpi
    Image Created: 2009:05:14 16:46:40
    Color Space Information: Uncalibrated
    Image Width: 493
    Image Height: 326

    Other Properties:

    Resolution Unit: i
    Exif IFD Pointer: 164
    Compression Scheme: JPEG Compression (Thumbnail)
    Horizontal Resolution: 72 dpi
    Vertical Resolution: 72 dpi
    Resolution Unit: i
    Offset to JPEG SOI: 302
    Bytes of JPEG Data: 3340

  14. Matthew G. Saroff 19 May, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    I’m thinking that it is a likely a Photoshop/GIMP job.

    It looked familiar, and then I realized that with a few modifications, it looks a LOT like the Long-EZ used for a testbed for the pulse detonation engine.

  15. HerkEng 19 May, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Steve Douglass,

    EXIF data is hit and miss. It might have even lost the data just by being posted onto a host site and then onto here… Even posting a photo onto Photobucket will wipe away most of the data.

    But I too always try to look at the EXIF.

  16. Franck 21 May, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    I do not see any canopy at all.
    Could you explain me you see it on this picture ?

    It is just really similar to this aircraft…

  17. Bruce Crossan 22 May, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    It’s definitely not a digital image. . . the “grain” is film like in appearance. The “noise” from a digital camera produces a much smoother speckling effect.

  18. EZ 18 July, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    My vote is for Polecat…

    Fast forward to 46 seconds in. Just imagine that shot taken from a bit higher than in the video with more of the topside exposed.

    Just sayin’.

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