1. Spindle

    Spindle New Member

    I've been searching for information about how the ATFLIR system tracks targets. I didn't come up with any authorative sources, this stuff isn't exactly published on the web for everyone to learn, but I did run across two different F/A-18 simulation games with highly detailed manuals. I would not consider them to be good sources at all, but I'm not relying on them for technical details. What I found makes common sense.

    From what I've learned, there are four ways the ATFLIR can be "aimed."

    L&S Slave- This means it will follow whatever you're tracking with the radar. This is the vertical "L+S" on the right side of the screen.

    Boresight Slave- This means it points at the aircraft's boresight, straight ahead. This is the vertical "BST" seen on the right side of the screen.

    Inertial LOS- This means the FLIR aims at a certain point in 3D space and it continues to aim there no matter what the aircraft does.

    Autotrack- The FLIR attempts to track whatever object falls inside the tracking area. The tracking area is the two vertical lines in the center of the screen on the left and right of the UFO. The manual states that the tracking area will contract to fit whatever you're tracking.

    I believe, but cannot confirm for sure, that a box will surround L+S or BST if either one are being used, so I think the FLIR was probably in Autotrack mode.

    For L&S, Boresight and Autotrack, one of these video game manuals said that if the FLIR loses the target, it will revert to Inertial LOS mode. Common sense tells me this is probably true in the real world. If you're tracking something and lose it, you'd want the FLIR to keep pointing in the direction it was last seen. It makes sense to default to Inertial LOS if the target is lost.

    With that in mind, I'm going to try to explain what I think the FLIR is doing in these frames. The first one is the very first frame after the zoom from MFOV to NAR, right before the target "zooms away."


    1 Notice that after the zoom, the target is not inside the autotrack box.
    2- The Autotrack box has started to enlarge. I believe this indicates that the FLIR is going into Inertial LOS mode and will continue pointing at this particular point in space until something comes into the box, it locks on and the box shrinks to fit it.
    3- The Autotrack box expands more as it enters Inertial LOS. Target has moved left a little as compared to the center of the artificial horizon.
    4- Autotrack has detected a target and shrinks the box but this leaves the target well outside. Big miss. Target has moved left a little more.
    5 Target is now starting to "zoom away"
    6 Zooming faster now. Autotrack expands to go back into Inertial LOS. The box stays this size for the rest of the video, that's why I think it indicates Inertial LOS mode. I think this is the default box size. It's waiting for a target to enter the box, at which point it will shrink to fit the target. It does get larger just as the video cuts out. I theorize that's because they're switching modes to something else, which also stops recording video of the FLIR.

    So, what can we learn from this? I don't know. I've made some assumptions based on a video game manual, but it's common sense stuff. If I'm right, I believe it shows that the lock on the object was lost immediately after the MFOV to NAR switch and the object is moving left immediately too.

    The video starts with the FLIR pointed at 4 degrees right of the aircraft and ends at 8 degrees left. The object was always moving left throughout the whole video. If NAR is a 1.5 degree field of view, can the object's move to the left be attributed solely on the fact that the FLIR is no longer moving to the left to track it?
  2. Josquin

    Josquin Member

    Some inconsistencies that are bothering me about the various accounts:

    1. The Fightersweep article mentions that another Hornet piloted by Lt. Colonel "Cheeks" Kurth was in the area over the water disturbance just as the two Super Hornets were arriving. This is not mentioned in the other reports, but would be significant since it means that there was another fighter-sized object in the area at the time.

    2. Cheeks reported seeing the disturbance in the water, but it cleared up just as he was leaving and the Super Hornets were arriving. He didn't report seeing the Tic Tac, which I would consider very significant. If the Tic Tac was there, why didn't Cheeks notice it?

    3. The report by "Source" on the TTSA web site is very vague on the behavior of the Tic Tac. It does not describe the object as hovering over the disturbance in the water like a Harrier or abruptly changing directions like a ping-pong ball. In fact, it describes it as moving in a straight line at 300-500 knots. Also, it does not describe it accelerating at tremendous speed and disappearing. Where is the picture referred to in the report that "Source" drew to illustrate the incident?

    4. The Navy Event Summary report places the object 5 NM west of the disturbance in the water, at an altitude of 4000 feet and again there is no mention of the object hovering like a Harrier or randomly changing directions. Also, the object was estimated to have achieved a speed of 600-700 knots, which is not the "multi-Mach speed" referred to in the Fightersweep report.

    5. The "Source" reports that OK2 (i.e. David Fravor) made a copy of the "gun tape" from his F-18 upon arriving back at the Nimitz. Fravor does not mention a gun tape in any of his accounts. Why not? Seems like a potentially significant piece of evidence.

    6. If the two Super Hornets couldn't pick up the object on radar, how could the F-18 that captured the FLIR footage later pick it up on radar from 55 km away if it was the same object?
  3. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    As I said on the previous page, "Perhaps the target drifted to the left because it was 8 degrees to the left of the F-18, but then again, it was also 5 degrees above the F-18 yet it didn't drift up at all."
    I was thinking of a stationary object that drifts due to the F-18's forward motion, but you're right that the object was always moving left.
    It took 35 seconds (112 to 147) to go from 0 to 8 degrees left, or 0.23 degrees per second.
    The NAR field of view is probably 0.7 degrees, as I mentioned in post #117.
    When the lock broke, the object took about a second to move a quarter of the FOV, or 0.175 degrees, which is in the ballpark of 0.23 degrees. If it took 0.76 seconds, it would be right on the money.

    You can see the object trying to drift left multiple times in the video, like after switching from TV to IR mode, but the tracker manages to reacquire and re-center it, but in the end it loses it. So the object is moving left the whole time at about 0.23 degrees per second.
    The object looks asymmetric to me, like the left end is pointy.

    There's info about the autotracker in SPIE and patents.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  4. marrowmonkey

    marrowmonkey Member

    Yes, that's my theory as well. Unfortunately there isn't anything in the background so it's not easy to tell from the images alone, but it's certainly a possibility the camera just lost tracking when they switch. If you look at something in the sky with a camera and then suddenly turn the camera, it would look just like that.
  5. Spindle

    Spindle New Member

    I didn't even think about that. I only meant that it has an apparent movement from 4R to 8L, right to left, the reason for that wasn't even on my mind. But now that you mention it, it could be stationary, except it passes through 0 degrees and the Hornet doesn't appear to turn, so the object is probably moving. It could also be a combination of the two, the object and the hornet moving.

    You're right about the .7 FOV. I forgot about the 2x zoom. I guess I'm recreating your work in a way. I guess I read your post but it didn't register until I started thinking about it in my own way.

    I think your calculations are good enough but there is some wiggle room that bugs me. We know that it goes 12 degrees from 4R to 8L, but how precise are those numbers? The fact that the camera isn't jerky shows us that it can traverse in finer increments that 1 degree. The system probably rounds the degrees off in some manner, assuming it calculates them at all. It may round them off in the standard ".5 rounds up, .4 rounds down" way. In this case, we don't know for sure it's exactly 12 degrees. If the readout says "2," that could be anywhere from 1.5 rounded up, to 2.4 rounded down. The video could actually be going from 4.49R to 8.49L (12.98 degrees), or it could be 3.50 to 7.50 (11 degrees). It's also possible that the system just drops decimals. "2" may mean anything from 2.00 to 2.99. So it may be going from 4.99 to 8.99 (14 degrees).

    We're stuck using 12 because that's all the display shows, and 12 is right in the middle of the possibilities so it's ok. But any calculations that don't come out as expected may be because of the impreciseness of that number.

    I attempted to come up with a better number, but failed. I planned this in my head while at work today then came home only to find disappointment. I went through the video frame by frame and wrote down the frame number when it switched from one degree to another. I assumed I could then see how many frames passed between each switch and hoped that number would be fairly consistent across the video. Unfortunately, it's all over the map. As you can see, it actually goes back to the right a couple of times. I assume this is from turbulence on the aircraft. Even when flying straight and level there are always those little nudges up, down, left and right.

    The left column is the degree, middle is the frame number when the degree reading on the display switched. The right column is how many frames pass until the next switch.

    Framerate 29.97 frames per second.
    4R - Start of video
    3R- 0249 120
    4R- 0369 28
    3R- 0397 241
    2R- 0638 194
    1R- 0832 55
    1L- 0887 85
    0 - 0972 162
    1L- 1134 87
    2L- 1221 137
    3L- 1358 95
    4L- 1453 105
    5L- 1558 92
    6L- 1650 82
    7L- 1732 122
    8L- 1854
    Target lost at 1879

    I was hoping the last few would be consistent and we could use that to zero in on the rate that the FLIR was turning left, but they weren't.

    I'm posting them in case anyone can find anything useful in them. I think I used a different video, by the way. I used the one from extraordinarybeliefs.com.
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  6. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    If the two pilots did witness a cruise missile test as Slaight suspected, it would be pretty weird for the missile to be flying circles around them, and it wouldn't hover or shoot off like a bullet, and the USS Princeton should've known about it, etc. But a Tomahawk viewed from an F-18 does look like a tic tac. It may produce a weak radar return. By the way, notice how it's brighter than water but darker than the sky.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. Josquin

    Josquin Member

    I have been wondering about this possible explanation as well. Some additional interesting facts:

    1. The Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS) entered service with the US Navy in late 2004.

    2. It has a "loitering feature" which allows the missile to be redirected to a new target. (Does the loitering look like the missile is hovering and moving in random directions?)

    3. Variants can be launched from a submarine. It has both a rocket engine for initial launch, and a jet engine for subsequent flight.
  8. Spindle

    Spindle New Member

    I believe the loitering feature wasn't added until the block IV Tomahawk which came out in 2006, but this could have been a early test. Both the TTWCS and Block IV can be controlled by inputting new GPS coordinates, so you could effectively make loiter by sending it one direction, then sending it another, but it would take some micro-managing. They're not very acrobatic, so loitering would probably look like Iazy circles.

    Turns out, the area around San Clemente Island is a Navy test range.

    (editing again to add a quote from the website, I forgot the no-click rule)


    Edit: maybe I have my locations mixed up. The video supposedly took place farther south didn't it?
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  9. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer New Member

    Cdr Fravor in the TTS interview said he was" a little bit South West of San Diego, usually about 60 to 70 miles off the coast, I don't know exactly where I was that day"
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  10. Josquin

    Josquin Member

    The first tests of the Block IV were conducted in 2004:


    A quick look at the history of the USS Stethem confirms that it was conducting Tomahawk Block IV missile tests off the coast of southern California in 2004:


    San Clemente Island is specifically mentioned in Jim Slaight's report on the TTSA website. That's the location they were flying towards when they saw the Tic Tac.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  11. Spindle

    Spindle New Member

    I don't like the idea of a missile because surely the Navy wouldn't let pilots wander into the path of a missile experiment. Surely a submarine would radio to Fleet HQ and ask if anyone is in the area or something, wouldn't they? With that in mind, I started looking at missile test sites in the area. I ended up with a completely different picture of the area they were in than what I had before.

    To hear the story told, it sounds like the Nimitz was just tooling around offshore on a lazy Sunday morning, doing a little pre-deployment training, letting their pilots go out to an exercise area to fly around a little. The radar guys on the Princeton had been curious about this radar contact for a few days and decided to send somebody to check it out. The FighterSweep article says they were in "open ocean." It sounds like they were completely on their own. Just the Nimitz and Princeton and whatever other ships were with them out in the middle of nowhere.

    Maybe a little more context is warranted.

    San Clemente is in the middle of this map.

    from here (PDF): http://www.denix.osd.mil/sri/policy...raining-routes-and-special-use-areas-figures/

    The blue boxes are Naval test ranges. So, this is just empty water that they occasionally toss bombs into? No. This is the busiest center of naval activity on earth.

    Part of what they do there is provide an exercise area for readiness training, which sounds like what the Nimitz was up to, but they also provide every bit of training you can imagine, from large fleet battles, minesweeping, electronic warfare, missile tests and live fire bombing exercises. It's a good bet that there were multiple other training exercises going on all around them. Sure, they would be some distance away, but the base on San Clemente Island itself controls six dozen test ranges. Sometimes they work concurrently, so while you're doing aerial maneuvers in one area, there may be a submarine battle taking place underneath. (https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/san-clemente-island.htm)

    The largest of three Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facilities in the country tracks and manages every Navy plane (48,000 per year), ship and submarine in the area from their base in San Deigo. They know what's going on in those blue boxes at all times. (http://www.facsfacsd.navy.mil/mission.html)

    This probably means there's a radar on San Clemente Island. I checked. San Clemente has "over 400 pieces of communication equipment, radar, microwave transceivers, and tactical data links. We also maintain equipment for the Air Force, Coast Guard, SCORE, San Diego county Sheriff's Department, college research labs and the FAA." So yeah, they don't just have a radar, they have all the radars. (http://www.facsfacsd.navy.mil/san-clemente-island.html)

    I'm sure the Nimitz probably had a certain range that was allotted to them and no one else could enter, and it's possible the people in charge of the area didn't bother to track every flight they were making because they were only doing random training and not highly coordinated live fire exercises. But still. This wasn't just the Princeton picking up a strange radar contact out at sea. The Princeton and Nimitz were in their own designated box inside an immense, tightly controlled and highly trafficked area where every piece of hardware the Navy owns is undergoing almost constant testing. The nearby island itself is bristling with radars and electronic equipment. If a UFO showed up, it's going to show up on multiple radars. If something unidentified invaded this airspace, it would set off all kinds of alarm bells.

    With all that in mind, there are aspects of the story I believe and aspects that are hard to swallow. I believe the area of turbulent water could have been a submarine. In fact, it's quite likely there are multiple submarines undergoing exercises in the area almost all the time. But I don't believe the submarine fired a missile. I believe the people in charge would allow jets to fly around above a submarine, but I don't believe they would have allowed them to approach a live fire exercise and I don't believe they would have allowed the submarine to fire if planes were approaching.

    The only tangible evidence we have is the video. I don't believe anything would have been allowed to enter their exercise area. I do think it's possible that the Hornets flew near the edge of their exercise area and were looking at an object in another exercise area. In that case, it could be virtually anything in the Navy's inventory. Anything in the world really, as this area hosts other Navies for exercises too.
  12. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    You have an overly developed idea of what goes on in an exercise area. Having sailed in these waters, both on an off Navy ships, I can tell you there is not a bunch of ships out there doing constant activity simply because there aren't that many ships in the US fleet. An exercise involving a submarine launch of a missile should have a publisted closure area however.
  13. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    I don't like the idea of a missile either. For one thing, it would leave a missile trail when it's launched, as in the video in my previous post. But sometimes the first instinct turns out to be right, and the TTSA Pilot Report says, "Source immediately became alarmed and initially thought that perhaps this was an unannounced, classified missile test by a U.S. Navy submarine."

    But later, the report quotes the Source saying, "There is no way any aircraft or missile that I know of could conduct maneuvers like what we saw that day."

    Could the two pilots be mistaken about a missile? What else could it be? Target drones are usually orange and not super maneuverable. A Fire Scout drone is a helicopter that wouldn't get away from an F-18. A balloon or a blimp could look like a tic tac but is probably too slow.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  14. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    Here's one of several indications that off-center motions of the target are camera-motion artifacts...

    In this clip replayed 14 times, brightness at the edges rotates clockwise around the edges during which the target makes a small corresponding circular motion that knocks it off center tracking. This may be relevant to the gimbal case in suggesting the ATFLIR's rotational motion can affect the target. But there's no indication that beyond making a circular motion this target rotates around its axis, and that wouldn't be anticipated based on our prior assumptions given that this apparently cooler target, unlike the gimbal, shows no signs of bloom or glare.

    This sample also shows that center tracking attempting to reacquire the target does not mean the target itself moved. Instead it seems center tracking is chasing camera-induced target motion, in effect, the tracking system is chasing itself.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  15. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Right, although the azimuth angle here is 2 degrees, not zero, and it looks like the camera rotated more than 90 degrees. This also shows that the nonuniform background is a sensor artifact, not clouds. After the rotation, the center of the image looks less noisy, and the target looks cleaner with less noise around it.
    The target may appear cooler if it's viewed from the side instead of the back, as it seems to be moving left and is narrower on the left.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Spindle

    Spindle New Member

    I think you read too much into what I was saying. I'm not saying there are ships bumping into each other out there (although the globalsecurity page for SCORE lists 1200 exercises in 2001 and the FACSFAC San Deigo calls this "the most congested area of Naval operations in the world," it's a very large area where nothing may be happening at any given time). I'm saying the exercise areas are highly monitored.

    If there is an exercise going on and an unidentified radar contact appeared in that area, it wouldn't have just been a curiosity that the radar operators in that exercise area decided to check on a whim, it would have set off alarm bells with the people who monitor exercises 24/7. Especially since this took place near San Clemente Island, which is where much of the monitoring is done from.
  17. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    I think you should stick with facts and not speculation especially about things you don't know. Is San Clemente Island where much of the monitoring is done? There are a lot of radars that serve a lot of customers both civilian and military. So what?
  18. Spindle

    Spindle New Member

    I think it's important to get a good idea of where this happened. It helps assess things like a missile, which one would speculate that they wouldn't let Hornets wander up on, or whether they'd be allowed to shoot down something that wandered into their training area, as the radar operators asked if the Hornets were armed. Why would they ask that? In a training area?
  19. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    You would have to ask them. I would be very surprised that they would be given weapons free on an unknown aircraft. Remember, a training area is not a no fly zone unless a NOTAMS was published. These are international waters passed 12 miles out.
  20. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    Yes! And I agree its an over 90˚rotation.

    What do you think of the idea that that brightness is an artifact of a lens that has been asymmetrically warmed by some nearby component? Brightness in that IR setting = warmth, and this brightness appears to be attached to a lens, exposing its rotation thereby. So a strict interpretation of the data seems to be that a lens itself is differentially warmed. The brightness isn't the sky or the sun but once again reduces to the most local entities.
  21. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    If it's being viewed along its side, wouldn't the LOS to it be around 45˚? It's about straight ahead for the entire ~82 seconds. So I don't see how, if it's a jet, we could be looking at it along its side (and the TV data is a big factor in that impression). I also believe we would find that the engines of a jet viewed from its side will still be the predominant IR signature and will bloom. Thermally, this target seems more like a balloon than a jet.
  22. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    Here's a jet viewed in IR along its side at close range



    Over distance almost all you'll see is that plume and the most local/heated parts of the jet. And in that case the shift from IR to TV would not find the object itself in the same location as the thermal source. I don't see how the Nimitz target can be a jet in any orientation to the camera. If the engines are on the opposite side, the two jets would have almost collided into each other within seconds, each flying along opposing vectors.
  23. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Well, I estimated in a previous post that the camera was panning left at 0.23 degrees/sec, so if the target is 30 nmi away, then it's moving left at 500 mph. And 5 degree elevation puts it at 36,000 feet altitude (16K feet above the F-18). And at 1/25 the FOV, it's 89 feet long. If the view aspect is not quite from the side but diagonal, then the target is faster and longer. But if it's at closer range, then it's slower, lower, and smaller.

    I don't think you'd see a big plume from an ordinary airplane like a business jet from the side, especially if it's angled slightly towards you. If it's a balloon, it would have to be a lot closer and slower. I suppose it could look hot in IR against the cold sky after automatic level and gain (ALG) correction. Usually black surfaces get hotter in the sun, and white surfaces are cooler, so they'd have a lower SNR, which may be the case here.
  24. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    As I recall from the patent in the Gimbal thread, the whole Electro Optical Sensor Unit (EOSU) rolls, including the IR receiver inside it, so any nonuniformities in the sensor itself will also roll relative to the target. But the dark circle artifact above the target doesn't rotate. I'm not sure what it is.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  25. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    For pondering I cut out all and only the TV (visible light) portion, going back and forth over the 1x to 2x zoom-in several times before doing a continuous run of all the TV portion. The target almost seems to elongate near the end...

    I wonder why the resolution is so lousy. I'd have thought the state-of-the-art ATFLIR would deliver sharp images. But, alas, what would a UFO case be w/o grainy footage (probably not a UFO case)! The apparent report leaked in 2007 said visual contact was "lost in the haze" at some point:

    So maybe the image is so grainy due to a haze. It's amazing how much visual noise exists in this short clip. And why is there this odd mirrored vignette as the TV view starts in Zoom 1x?


    Maybe understanding why in TV we see a very strange mirrored vignette would lead to other answers. Are they in haze?
  26. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    The haze was inconsistent with what Fravor told Fox News: "You're talking fifty miles of visibility, and you can easily see an object that size easily out to ten miles, and it just disappeared in seconds."

    The FLIR video was apparently leaked in 2007, and it's blurry and shaky as if someone filmed a screen that was playing the video. Even the symbology is blurry. The Gimbal video is cleaner, though compressed.
    I don't know what the vignette is, but there are all kinds of internal reflections.
    To me the target in TV mode looks like an airplane heading left and towards the camera, banking to the target's right, and viewed from below. I can sort of make out its wings and tail.
  27. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    If that's the case, we can chalk up the Nimitz story as an orchestrated hoax. Those pilots didn't believe a business jet 30 miles away was doing all the crazy stuff they've described. But I also don't think the data supports that scenario you outline. During the 75 seconds of video, @ mach 0.55 the jet would travel about 9 miles toward the target. So the size of the target should have grown substantially, but it didn't. The data suggest the target kept pace with the jet forward of the jet, and that's compatible with scene accounts.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  28. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    It bothers me that there doesn't seem to be a 'clear channel' of evidence in this case to primary sources. We've got stuff posted online in 2007 by anon users, then we've got TTSA (that reeks of a flim-flam racket) and then the say-so of pilots Fravor and Slaight. Nowhere are we provided with anything close to TTSA's alleged "chain-of-custody documentation," which in its absence reeks of a lie. So I say we can't rule out a complete hoax. My gut tells me Fravor and Slaight are being honest, telling us what they saw/remember, but we need data from outside anon posts and the TTSA circle.

    Here's the original Nimitz footage posted in 2007 on archive.org, it's better quality than TTSA released.
  29. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    Imo, this interpretation is more consistent with all the data including witness accounts...


    Given uncertainty, I'd err toward a data interpretation that jibes with reliable witnesses.

    Watch the video of the TV (visible light) footage again...

    Now it seems like this footage may not be all that grainy after all. If they really were chasing a tic-tac-shaped object, this screen target could hardly do a better flying-tic-tac act.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  30. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    It should grow by about 38%, and I think it does. Compare the 2X zoom at the start and the end of the video.

    In the TV footage, I'm seeing an airplane from this aspect, but a smaller plane.


    That would be a separate aircraft from what Fravor says he chased, but if it's just an airplane, then it's weird that it couldn't be identified as such on radar.
  31. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Yes, it would be better if these materials were on the DOD's FOIA page like this one

    You'd hope that at least the New York Times vetted this stuff before publishing it.
  32. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    I can't detect target enlargement comparing 2x to 2x and 1x to 1x across the widest lengths on the footage. Accounting for a lot of noise in some fames. I'll be posting a video that overlays IR and TV footage, and each from across a good span of the footage's length.
  33. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    Here I've overlaid IR and TV (visible light) footage of the Nimitz UFO, said to be a 'tic tac' shaped object. Each clip is from separate times in the Nimitz footage and are not simultaneous. Many FLIR products on market output overlaid IR and TV just like this. The IR segment starts at video frame 01:09:16 and ends @ 01:11:10 (in the 2007 file), and it being the longest 2x IR run defines the chosen length of TV footage overlaid which occurs earlier in the footage.

    Each overlaid clip is the same size. By and large the horizontal alignment on the horizontal screen marker denoting the jet's roll axis is kept constant between clips. The target can veer widely off center, so there's no expectation that two overlaid segments of 2x footage from different portions of the footage would show the target in the same corresponding place, yet holding horizontal mostly constant produces a persistent 'tic tac' shape consistent with the IR signature showing the sun-warmed upper edge of the object.

    Imo, data across three sensory systems, IR, TV and human eye cohere on a tic-tac-shaped object.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
  34. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    Important test of my argument above. Here both IR and TV segments are overlaid with rigid-fixed positions for the same duration as overlaid above:


    It's like pieces in a slighted 'exploded' jigsaw puzzle. The solar-highlight biased to the side of the visible object that has a slight 'chunk' taken out of it, probably due to a solar reflection on the upper edge of the object being equally luminous in TV mode as the sky behind. But IR steps in to recover that brightened and also warmed upper edge.
    • Like Like x 1
  35. Curt Collins

    Curt Collins New Member

    This is a question so basic, I hesitate to ask, but...
    Is there anything identifiable in the Nimitz video?
    Sea, sky, horizon...?
    • Like Like x 1
  36. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    Correct, there are no comparative points of reference in the scene. Just this object and open sky.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
  37. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    Here's an analysis of target size over the span of the Nimitz footage per magnification setting (1x or 2x)...


    Aside from noise or motion blur I don't think there's appreciable change of size over the 74 seconds. During that time the jet is flying mach 0.55 (422 mph) toward the object. So during that time it travels ~8.7 miles in the direction of the target. If it was a jet viewed from its side, it should have grown substantially at fixed magnifications. The straightforward interpretation seems to be that the object is probably keeping pace with the jet in visible sight forward of it.

    Notice the size in TV does appear to increase across its span. Moreover, there seem to be changes to the shape of the object nearing the close of TV mode. Because that change seems to persist over the closing frames of TV mode, my impression is that change may not be noise but represent features of the object.
    • Like Like x 1
  38. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    The horizon is below the screen. The field of view as at most 3 degrees, and the sensor is pointing 5 degrees up at the sky. Any elevation angle above 1.5 degrees without roll puts the horizon below the screen.
  39. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    I think it grew between the start and end. In the beginning, there's a lot of noise and blur around the object that makes it look bigger, but the object itself is smaller, and in the end you see just the object with less blur around it.
    In TV mode, to me it looks like an airplane that's banking so that by the end it turns more sideways.
    The hotter right side of the target in the IR video may be the engine in the back of the plane. If the heat were due to solar warming, then simply turning would've exposed different sides to the sun.
  40. igoddard

    igoddard Active Member

    The apparent growth in size during the TV-mode duration is noteworthy wrt your hypothesis...


    TV mode would be the most reliable to capture actual object shape and size, and lo and behold in the brief window we have through TV mode the change of size corresponds with your interpretation. However, there's no reason to assume if there is a tic-tac-shaped object just forward of the jet, as pilots assert, its distance wouldn't vary. Moreover, looking at the IR too, I'm not persuaded this rate of size change matches any indicated rate of size change across the whole clip.

    Also, note the choppy right-to-left motion Spindle points out in reply #165 above with a painstaking frames-per-LOS-degree analysis. That seems to be problematic for the idea of a distant jet seen along its side being tracked. The target's motion, while overall moves from right to left, on smaller scales that motion seems rather chaotic.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018