Claim that the Nimitz FLIR1 object could not be a plane because it would have been Identified

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTUX5tgU5xo


He sums up the argument as:
This all hinges on one very important assumption, "6) FLIR was not a lucky catch. It was slaved to the radar." The problem I have with this is that the radar was not working - in that it was unable to lock onto the object, and was giving very inconsistent numbers for it. How then was it able to point the ATFLIR with 100% accuracy in the right direction, within 1% horizontally and vertically?

It it was an F-18, then obviously it would have been on the datalink. But the question that might invalidate all the other points is: was the return on Underwood's radar that he was trying to lock onto (and, it is claimed, designated as a target) the same thing that showed up on the ATFLIR. Because if it wasn't, then the other six points are moot.

The key argument in more depth:
Again though, this all hinges on one very simple assumption, stated here as:

"This means that the FLIR was looking at the object because the radar was, even though Underwood couldn't get a lock that doesn't mean that can't be passively designated as a priority. "

And how does that work? The FLIR needs an instant handover of heading and vertical angle. If the radar is being actively jammed, then where are those two numbers coming from, and how is it known they are accurate?

Underwood stated (Corbell, 7:46)
So we simultaneously have a radar that being jammed and giving all kinds of strange numbers, and you can't even get the airspeed, but is also able to hand over the exact position to the ATFLIR? It does not make sense.
 
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jarlrmai

Senior Member
Might be time to get that DCS F/18 module now the ATFLIR pod is out, it might not be able to emulate the glare and IR effects but it's lock and slave modes should be fairly accurate. Of course using a simulator will likely be dismissed out of hand but it's the best we can do short of getting our own F/18.
 

Alphadunk

Active Member
Question, if the FLIR is slaved to the radar can it only track a target that is also being tracked by the radar or can the pilot specify an independent target even while operating in slave mode?
 

jackfrostvc

Active Member
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't underwood say he never visually saw the Tic Tac as it was too far away, and that he only saw it on his F-18's screens (TV mode and IR mode)?

If that's true, it would indicate he located it and locked on it via radar. At least long enough to get the initial lock on it
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Does it create confusion for anybody else when the Flir1 target is referred to as "the Tic Tac?" Would it help to avoid confusion if we didnt do that, but restricted "the Tic Tac" to Fravor's sighting? There is already such massive confusion between the Flir1/Go Fast/Gimbal vids and Fravor's Tic Tac sighting, due to extremely sloppy reporting in the Mainstream Media and among YouTubers, I think it is more than usually important to be careful not to add to that.
 

food-creature

New Member
Does it create confusion for anybody else when the Flir1 target is referred to as "the Tic Tac?"
I don't like the term in general because it implies that we know what the object's shape is

Might be time to get that DCS F/18 module now the ATFLIR pod is out, it might not be able to emulate the glare and IR effects but it's lock and slave modes should be fairly accurate. Of course using a simulator will likely be dismissed out of hand but it's the best we can do short of getting our own F/18.
Well, the claims in the OP video should be dismissed too in that case. Anyway, here's this video from a DCS dev (?) demoing the ATFLIR and even after watching part of this video it seems like there's some inconsistency with the OP about the lock/slave modes. I watched the part at the end about the air-to-air mode which looks the most like what we see in the navy videos. He makes it pretty clear that a target can be FLIR tracked without a radar lock, or it can be slaved to a radar locked target, or both simultaneously.

Timestamped to the air-to-air part:
Source: https://youtu.be/kGQYBpXqfMU?t=542


When it's in slaved mode, one of the options next to SLAVE appears boxed/highlighted on the FLIR display.
On the left is what it looks like when he slaves it to track a radar locked target, on the right is after he opts to:
initiate a FLIR track - and there it is. So now both the radar and the FLIR are tracking the same target
flir1.PNGflir2.PNG

The bars after he does the FLIR track are familiar. But in the navy videos, nothing on the right is boxed/highlighted, which if I'm getting this right means it isn't slaved. This seems consistent with this (kind of obtuse) documentation page for what I think is a different simulation company's FLIR:
https://forums.vrsimulations.com/su...ing_Infrared_(FLIR)#A.2FA_FLIR_Pointing_Modes
When the FLIR is in the L&S Slave Mode, the L+S option at [PB12] on the A/A FLIR format is boxed, and the MC slaves the FLIR LOS to the MSI L&S target's LOS. If the MSI L&S does not exist then the default LOS is to the aircraft boresight (L&S remains boxed). If the L&S designation is stepped to a different MSI trackfile via the Radar Attack or Az/El formats, the FLIR is slaved to the new L&S LOS. With TDC priority to the FLIR format, TDC slewing will initiate Inertial LOS mode and unbox the L&S option.


So the Navy videos don't actually look like they're slaved to a radar locked target at any point, not unless two simulations are inaccurate in the same way. Granted I don't actually have this simulation software and I'm not familiar with it, so I could be wrong.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
I don't like the term in general because it implies that we know what the object's shape is


Well, the claims in the OP video should be dismissed too in that case. Anyway, here's this video from a DCS dev (?) demoing the ATFLIR and even after watching part of this video it seems like there's some inconsistency with the OP about the lock/slave modes. I watched the part at the end about the air-to-air mode which looks the most like what we see in the navy videos. He makes it pretty clear that a target can be FLIR tracked without a radar lock, or it can be slaved to a radar locked target, or both simultaneously.

Timestamped to the air-to-air part:
Source: https://youtu.be/kGQYBpXqfMU?t=542


When it's in slaved mode, one of the options next to SLAVE appears boxed/highlighted on the FLIR display.
On the left is what it looks like when he slaves it to track a radar locked target, on the right is after he opts to:

flir1.PNGflir2.PNG

The bars after he does the FLIR track are familiar. But in the navy videos, nothing on the right is boxed/highlighted, which if I'm getting this right means it isn't slaved. This seems consistent with this (kind of obtuse) documentation page for what I think is a different simulation company's FLIR:
https://forums.vrsimulations.com/su...ing_Infrared_(FLIR)#A.2FA_FLIR_Pointing_Modes



So the Navy videos don't actually look like they're slaved to a radar locked target at any point, not unless two simulations are inaccurate in the same way. Granted I don't actually have this simulation software and I'm not familiar with it, so I could be wrong.
This is pretty much what I thought based on watching the same video, thanks for summing up so well.
 

JFDee

Senior Member.
Does it create confusion for anybody else when the Flir1 target is referred to as "the Tic Tac?"

Underwood claimed that it was him who coined the term in the first place. The others must have adopted it immediately.

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/201...o-q-and-a-with-navy-pilot-chad-underwood.html

The problem is indeed that the usage of the term in both events suggests that the object in the video and the object in Fravor's encounter were identical, while there is no good indication that this is the case.
 

gtoffo

Active Member
I don't like the term in general because it implies that we know what the object's shape is


Well, the claims in the OP video should be dismissed too in that case. Anyway, here's this video from a DCS dev (?) demoing the ATFLIR and even after watching part of this video it seems like there's some inconsistency with the OP about the lock/slave modes. I watched the part at the end about the air-to-air mode which looks the most like what we see in the navy videos. He makes it pretty clear that a target can be FLIR tracked without a radar lock, or it can be slaved to a radar locked target, or both simultaneously.

Timestamped to the air-to-air part:
Source: https://youtu.be/kGQYBpXqfMU?t=542


When it's in slaved mode, one of the options next to SLAVE appears boxed/highlighted on the FLIR display.
On the left is what it looks like when he slaves it to track a radar locked target, on the right is after he opts to:

flir1.PNGflir2.PNG

The bars after he does the FLIR track are familiar. But in the navy videos, nothing on the right is boxed/highlighted, which if I'm getting this right means it isn't slaved. This seems consistent with this (kind of obtuse) documentation page for what I think is a different simulation company's FLIR:
https://forums.vrsimulations.com/su...ing_Infrared_(FLIR)#A.2FA_FLIR_Pointing_Modes



So the Navy videos don't actually look like they're slaved to a radar locked target at any point, not unless two simulations are inaccurate in the same way. Granted I don't actually have this simulation software and I'm not familiar with it, so I could be wrong.
Those simulations are not able to reproduce all of ATFLIR's functionalities.

For example if you watch the "GOFAST" video you will clearly see another way of tracking an object that the pilots refer to as "autotrack" which is not available on DCS as far as I can tell.

In the FLIR video we don't see how the target was acquired initially. It just starts from an arbitrary point in time. We don't know what happened before.

Here is the description of the intercept from the executive report: https://cropper.watch.aetnd.com/cdn...REPORT_1526682843046_42960218_ver1.0-copy.pdf


Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 23.30.49.png
It states clearly initial awareness came from the radar.

This is confirmed by underwood in the interview with the NY MAG https://nymag.com/intelligencer/201...o-q-and-a-with-navy-pilot-chad-underwood.html
So, we go out to where our designated training area is. We’re not necessarily looking for something, but the Princeton had a specific object that they wanted us to hunt, for lack of a better word. And all of a sudden, I got this blip on my radar.

Then the WSO tried locking on the object with a Single Target Track but was unable to get a lock. The FLIR was pointed in L+S slave based on that initial track.

From there the ATFLIR seems to visually lock on the IR source since no reliable radar lock is available.

We can see from the range appearing that Underwood attempts to lock on the object via radar once more but no valid result is returned (RNG 99.9). The object is just being visually tracked by ATFLIR.

So in the video we see it isn't in L+S mode (radar lock correlated to an ATFLIR lock). It is a passive visual lock such as in the GO FAST video and that is why the object is lost when it moves out of the center of the image.

Contrary to GO FAST the visual ATFLIR lock is not automatically correlated to a radar lock (in go fast the range is displayed immediately). here the radar can't "hack it".
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Then the WSO tried locking on the object with a Single Target Track but was unable to get a lock. The FLIR was pointed in L+S slave based on that initial track.

From there the ATFLIR seems to visually lock on the IR source since no reliable radar lock is available.

And that's that the key issue. How accurate was that pointing (azimuth AND elevation)? How far away was the radar target? How far away was the ATFLIR target? Can we be sure they were the same thing?
 

gtoffo

Active Member
And that's that the key issue. How accurate was that pointing (azimuth AND elevation)? How far away was the radar target? How far away was the ATFLIR target? Can we be sure they were the same thing?
According to the executive report posted above the initial contact with the target was at 30-40nm which is close to the limit for ATFLIR but well within radar range.

In the NYMAG interview Underwood states:
It was inside of 20 miles. You’re not going to see it with your own eyes until probably 10 miles, and then you’re not going to be able to visually track it until you’re probably inside of five miles, which is where Dave Fravor said that he saw it.

If the pointing wasn't accurate: what the hell was also in the sky at the time and what are the chances of precisely hitting it by mistake at such a range?

Furthermore: what the hell was also in the sky at the time that the F-18s radar could not track and looks like a blob on ATFLIR TV mode and on IR mode?

The ATFLIR range is significantly lower than the radar's (40+nm vs 80+nm). If you see it on ATFLIR you should definitely see it on radar.

Also this is a pretty close range for an intercept. Why did Underwood fail intercepting the thing?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
If the pointing wasn't accurate: what the hell was also in the sky at the time and what are the chances of precisely hitting it by mistake at such a range?
We have no idea how precise it was. Maybe it was a speck in the WFOV, a few degrees off.
 

gtoffo

Active Member
We have no idea how precise it was. Maybe it was a speck in the WFOV, a few degrees off.
I'm lost here. Could you recap what your analysis of the event is?
  1. An object is spotted on radar?
  2. ATFLIR is pointed at it but is imprecise and hits something else (a friendly F-18?)
  3. The radar malfunctions
  4. The F-18 is extremely out of focus for some reason both on IR and TV mode
  5. The pilots are confused and think it's a UFO
Is this what you are saying happened?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I'm lost here. Could you recap what your analysis of the event is?
  1. An object is spotted on radar?
  2. ATFLIR is pointed at it but is imprecise and hits something else (a friendly F-18?)
  3. The radar malfunctions
  4. The F-18 is extremely out of focus for some reason both on IR and TV mode
  5. The pilots are confused and think it's a UFO
Is this what you are saying happened?
Very roughly, yes. However I think it's going to be very difficult to get more precisions, as it has been so long, and accounts vary.

Let's take the transition from radar to ATFLIR. We have the "Executive report" (legit, according to Fravor, prepared by AATIP), which says of teh radar to ATFLIR Transition

https://media.lasvegasnow.com/nxsgl...TIVE REPORT_1526682843046_42960218_ver1.0.pdf
And then in FighterSweep:
Article:
The target aspect on the track file was turning through 360 degrees along with some other distinct jamming indications. In the less precise scan mode, the return indicated that the object was, in the WSO’s [Underwood's] words, “A few thousand feet below us. Around 15-20K– but hovering stationary.” The only movement was generated by the closure of the fighter to the CAP location.

The WSO resorted to the FLIR pod on board, slaving it to the weak track the RWS mode had been able to generate. He recorded the following sequence to the on-board recorder. Using the IR mode, he was able to lock onto the AAV. It showed up on his screen and on tape as a white object in a black background hovering with no known means.


So we've got this very clear account of something below him and stationary. But the video clearly shows it's above him and moving quite fast.

So there's a very clear disconnect between Underwood's account and the video.
 

gtoffo

Active Member
Mick, discarding everything else for a moment: don't you think that sequence of events is highly unlikely?

You need both a technical failure (radar malfunction) and a human failure (WSO sucks at his job or is drunk... he's not even flying the plane. Intercepting stuff with those systems is his only job all day) for it to make sense.

Probably you need another technical failure which is ATFLIR being heavily out of focus/blurred for some reason or more details would be visible. Someone forgot to clean the window or something like that?

And all in the same day in which Fravor and the others had their encounter... and the Princeton had strange radar contacts.

That's quite a string of unlikely events.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Mick, discarding everything else for a moment: don't you think that sequence of events is highly unlikely?

I disagree with your description of events, but I actually DO think the sequence of events is highly unlikely.

Every so often highly unlikely sequences of events happen. We pick up on those because they seem really unlikely. But they are inevitable.
 

FatPhil

Active Member
I disagree with your description of events, but I actually DO think the sequence of events is highly unlikely.

Every so often highly unlikely sequences of events happen. We pick up on those because they seem really unlikely. But they are inevitable.

Yup. If there's an opportunity for a one-in-a-trilllion event to happen once an hour, it'll happen to someone on the planet about weekly. If there's an opportunity for a one-in-a-billion event to happen once in an hour, it will happen to someone in the US military about monthly. People underestimate the number of opportunities there are for freakish occurances.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
I think it's worth stating again the visual/IR aspects of the camera don't have a range limit, other (laser designator) aspects might. But a camera is a camera if there's enough photons hitting the sensor the camera will detect it.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
According to the executive report posted above the initial contact with the target was at 30-40nm which is close to the limit for ATFLIR but well within radar range.

I think it's worth stating again the visual/IR aspects of the camera don't have a range limit, other (laser designator) aspects might. But a camera is a camera if there's enough photons hitting the sensor the camera will detect it.

The idea that a camera, especially a thermal camera, has a distance limit is a surprising common misconception, based on specs. When I told someone on Twitter that I used the Sun as a stand-in for a jet engine heat source with my thermal camera, they disbelievingly asked me "what's the range on your thermal camera".

The ATFLIR has no limit to the distance it can track a target with a passive track, because it's just tracking pixels on screen.
 

gtoffo

Active Member
The idea that a camera, especially a thermal camera, has a distance limit is a surprising common misconception, based on specs. When I told someone on Twitter that I used the Sun as a stand-in for a jet engine heat source with my thermal camera, they disbelievingly asked me "what's the range on your thermal camera".

The ATFLIR has no limit to the distance it can track a target with a passive track, because it's just tracking pixels on screen.
This is not true though.

You need sufficient sensor sensibility to distinguish between the heat source and the background heat.

Try standing at 100km with a lighter and see if the ATFLIR sees you. It won't :)

Place a fusion reactor at 150 million km from the earth (the sun) and you will see it on ATFLIR.

An ordinary jet falls somewhat in between. According to public data by Raytheon the ATFLIR "can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet, outperforming comparable targeting systems." https://www.raytheon.com/capabiliti...te and designate,with the speed and precision.
I disagree with your description of events, but I actually DO think the sequence of events is highly unlikely.

Every so often highly unlikely sequences of events happen. We pick up on those because they seem really unlikely. But they are inevitable.
At what point is it so unlikely that "it was an alien probe" becomes more likely? Food for thought :)

Can you clarify what your description of the events is so that we can think about it?

If it is a general variation of what I posted I think you are fixating on a solution which is not the most simple. It would be much more probable that this was some kind of russian/chinese vehicle. Possibly with stealth and/or radar jamming capabilities.

Also: let's remember we do have some data on the event. I've updated some of the old data recaps:
UPDATED V3 Recap of the data we have confirmed:
- this things moves horizontally 12° (Mick estimates 4.2 seconds/degree of apparent movement) across the nose of an observer moving 250 knots with a fixed heading and altitude (HDG+BALT autopilot engaged)
- it is at an apparent angle of 6° and then 5° of inclination above an observer at 20k feet (this could correspond to a tiny change as the value is rounded to the degree).
- ATFLIR's manufacturer states "ATFLIR can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet" (and the intercept could have been as close as 20nm according to witness testimony by the pilot)
- the radar can't lock on and determine range although it's range is longer than ATFLIR
- the thing is emitting IR radiation
- the thing is visible on TV (black & white) mode so it is observable in the visible light spectrum with a similar shape to its IR image
- the video is blurred both in IR and TV mode.
- the video is compressed and low quality

Additional data that depends on range assuming 40nm (max) to 20nm (testimony):
- object speed (only horizontal component relative to observer) is around 600 (40nm) to 300 knots (20nm) true air speed
- object elevation would be at 40k feet at 40nm or 30k feet at 20 nm. Elevation is key: maintaining those altitudes for something with wings is tricky. At 40k feet 600 knots is slightly over mach 1 and 329 knots CAS. An F-18 requires afterburner to achieve this (unlikely since very expensive). At 30k feet 300 knots is 0.5 mach and 187 knots CAS. An F-18 would be within its flight envelope with no afterburner.
- object size: we can get there with the camera field of view. "the ATFLIR maps a 0.70/0.35 deg field of view to the ATFLIR image sensor, this is equivalent to a super-telephoto lens of a focal length greater than 1200mm and a magnification factor of 35x or greater compared to a 35mm lens and sensor. This means that for objects at significant distance the details of their structure should be visible in the ATFLIR display up to several miles in distance." source https://www.explorescu.org/post/nimitz_strike_group_2004 page 198 The two values are for zoom 1 and zoom 2. At zoom 2 the object is 57/750 pixels on my screen so 0.076 of 0.35° which is 0.0266° apparent angular size. At 40nm it's 40 meters. At 20nm it's 20 meters an F-18 super hornet is 18,31 meters long. This is the size Fravor estimated for the thing he saw.

Here is the data above on the F-18 flight envelope. In green the area above 20nm where no after burner is needed. In red the area approaching the 40nm max where after burner is needed.

unnamed.gif

If we want this to be an F-18 we must be at 20nm of distance between the object and Underwood. If we go closer than that the object becomes too small and too slow for flight to be and F-18. If you go above you become too big and too fast.
 

Scaramanga

Member
When Fravour says ( in the video at 7.39 ) ' the aspect vector started spinning around, as it didn't want to be locked up'.....what is the 'it' he is referring to ? Alpha Check then comments at 7.54 ' immediately it starts jamming the radar'. Again, what is the 'it' ? On first viewing the video it comes across as 'it' is the UFO, but on going over it several times it is not clear that 'it' is not simply onboard equipment on the fighter plane.
 

Alphadunk

Active Member
There is no known video from Fravor's supposed encounter so I'm not sure it is worthwhile to consider his statements alongside the video.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
I went back to the original executive summary report the RADAR is set to be in

1620555007663.png

So what does this mean

RWS range while searching, is a standard AA mode.
80NM is the effective range.

4bar is interesting, this refers to the vertical search of the RADAR

https://flyandwire.com/2020/09/09/back-to-basics-radar-elevation-bars-and-scan-azimuth/

This determines how many degrees up/down the RADAR scans from the horizontal, 4 bars is given as 6.3 degrees for the AWG-9 RADAR

The lower the bars and closer a target the more likely it is to be outside of the RADAR volume if it is at a higher or lower altitude
 

noahwins

New Member
Can someone explain how radar jamming works? I thought it was interesting that Alpha Check assumed whatever the F-18 was targeting was jamming the radar. If I'm not mistaken, the pilot didn't say it was jamming the radar, he said the radar system couldn't fully resolve or lock onto it. Big difference, no?

A very small target like a surveillance drone or balloon would be harder to "paint" with radar, right?
 

noahwins

New Member
Yup. If there's an opportunity for a one-in-a-trilllion event to happen once an hour, it'll happen to someone on the planet about weekly. If there's an opportunity for a one-in-a-billion event to happen once in an hour, it will happen to someone in the US military about monthly. People underestimate the number of opportunities there are for freakish occurances.

I believe this is called the Law of Truly Large Numbers. Every few years, there's a story about someone winning the lottery twice or three times and the journalist will write something like "the odds are one in a quintillion" or another arbitrarily large number. But because of the Law of Truly Large Numbers, someone somewhere winning the lottery multiple times every so often is virtually assured (I may be wrong but I remember the odds being closer to 1 in 30 in any given year in the U.S.).
 
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Max Phalange

Active Member
I believe this is called the Law of Truly Large Numbers. Every few years, there's a story about someone winning the lottery twice or three times and the journalist will write something like "the odds are one in a quintillion" or another arbitrarily large number. But because of the Law of Truly Large Numbers, someone somewhere winning the lottery multiple times every so often is virtually assured (I may be wrong but I remember the odds being closer to 1 in 30 in any given year in the U.S.).
(Off topic, but - Matt Parker did a good video on the likelyhood of events with extremely low probabilities actually occuring Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ko3TdPy0TU
)
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Can someone explain how radar jamming works? I thought it was interesting that Alpha Check assumed whatever the F-18 was targeting was jamming the radar. If I'm not mistaken, the pilot didn't say it was jamming the radar, he said the radar system couldn't fully resolve or lock onto it. Big difference, no?

A very small target like a surveillance drone or balloon would be harder to "paint" with radar, right?

my understanding is that the account basically says

We were flying along in search mode and got some returns on the the radar that initially had location, direction and speed, ie the RADAR return was good enough at some point for the RADAR in search mode to acquire enough information allocate it as a track object with a heading etc. These traces were then lost, but the RADAR leaves them up as 'aging' track files, basically they still show on the RADAR screen but they have predicted locations etc based on the original track. Normally this wouldn't happen seems to the implication and if it were an aircraft from the Navy it would have been known about before and sending its location, ie it must have been something not dialled into the network. The implication at this stage is if there is actually something there then it should be either strong unknown signal or an already known aircraft from the fleet, this presumes that there was actually something there and that those original returns were not ghost returns, ie a glitch in the RADAR. The further implication is that maybe the craft was trying to mask or confuse the RADAR which is why signals were intermittent and only generated aging track files.

Then the account says one of these aging track files was allocated as the L+S (Launch and Steer) target (this is basically your primary target all your other systems that are interested in one target (ATFLIR and AA missiles etc) generally have this track as their default target it's location is basically copy pasted to them by default. It is stated that the ATFLIR was pointed at one of the aging traces and that's when the object in the video was seen.

From what I can tell none of this is shown in the recording, the creator of the video above says at ~8:55 specifically "Note the ATFLFIR in the VIDEO (the Nimitz video) is in SLAVE mode" It isn't though. if it were SLAVE or L+S would be boxed.

So the ATFLIR was apparently pointed at an aging trace, predicted path and then this object shows up in that same airspace it is then optically tracked by the ATFLIR as we see, obviously at this stage with no RADAR trace it would need to optically track so slaving would be pointless. But it does mean there is no video evidence that they switched from a track slaved to an aging trace to optically track.

The debate now seems to be why would the object they are tracking on ATFLIR not show up on RADAR, they state they switched to STT which as far as I can tell is basically a mode that points the radar at a track and gets frequent updates, but as there was no track except the aging tracks it's not clear how this would work, this seems the be the it's jamming us part. But could be an operator error or a failure in the RADAR system. I am not 100% clear on how these RADAR modes work though. It could be the STT mode was asking the RADAR to look at the aging track and not where the ATFLIR was looking for instance but these all seem like basic things.
 

Alphadunk

Active Member
The debate now seems to be why would the object they are tracking on ATFLIR not show up on RADAR, they state they switched to STT which as far as I can tell is basically a mode that points the radar at a track and gets frequent updates, but as there was no track except the aging tracks it's not clear how this would work, this seems the be the it's jamming us part.

I had wondered if the target being tracked optically might be outside the range of the RADAR, thus explaining why it was visible to one system but not the other. In 2004 the Hornet would have been equipped, I think, with the AN/APG-73. Looks like the stated range for that system is around 75km or 46.6 miles. If the object being "looked at" by the ATFLIR at that range were large enough to be represented by a pixel on the screen it would still be able to track it right?
 

DebunkMee

New Member
I'm lost here. Could you recap what your analysis of the event is?
  1. An object is spotted on radar?
  2. ATFLIR is pointed at it but is imprecise and hits something else (a friendly F-18?)
  3. The radar malfunctions
  4. The F-18 is extremely out of focus for some reason both on IR and TV mode
  5. The pilots are confused and think it's a UFO
Is this what you are saying happened?
If we assume that the ATFLIR did accidentally target a friendly F-18 that just happened to be near the initial radar track, wouldn't that F-18 show up on the SA since all friendly units transmit their location to each other via datalink (not radar)? All it would take to figure out what you're looking at would be 1 glace at the SA from any of the people either in the planes or in the ships monitoring the situation, since according to the video, even if you're not locked onto anything, there will be a line drawn on the SA between your plane and the object your sensors are focusing on, which in this case would be the friendly F-18. Even if the system can't draw a such a line just from a visual track, it should be a cakewalk to put 2 and 2 together since the F-18 should nevertheless be on the SA.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
If we assume that the ATFLIR did accidentally target a friendly F-18 that just happened to be near the initial radar track, wouldn't that F-18 show up on the SA since all friendly units transmit their location to each other via datalink (not radar)? All it would take to figure out what you're looking at would be 1 glace at the SA from any of the people either in the planes or in the ships monitoring the situation, since according to the video, even if you're not locked onto anything, there will be a line drawn on the SA between your plane and the object your sensors are focusing on, which in this case would be the friendly F-18. Even if the system can't draw a such a line just from a visual track, it should be a cakewalk to put 2 and 2 together.
You'd think. But it also depends on how far away they think it is, and the altitude. Remember Underwood originally thought the object was 5,000 to 10,000 feet below where it actually was.
 

DebunkMee

New Member
You'd think. But it also depends on how far away they think it is, and the altitude. Remember Underwood originally thought the object was 5,000 to 10,000 feet below where it actually was.
So is it your contention that Underwood & the others were aware that his visual track pointed and continued to point exactly in the direction of another F-18, but disregarded to make the connection because Underwood believed the supposed object to be at another distance than the F-18?

It's conceivable, but it sounds extremely odd, since the F-18 and the imagined object would remain perfectly lined up with each other from Underwood's perspective. If that continues for even a few seconds then someone should have drawn the conclusion that the supposed object doesn't exist and is in fact the other F-18. If not then and there, then certainly when analyzing the situation afterwards.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
I think the scenario could possibly go like this

1. A RADAR track is made, lost and ages, this track is at -5
2. The FLIR is pointed at this aging track in or later switched to wide angle mode when nothing showed in the narrow mode.
3. An object is seen in the wide angle the slave is cancelled and this object optically tracked, this object is at +5.
4. A mistake is made that the FLIR is pointing at the aging trace (-5 for 5) , RADAR targets at +5 are dismissed even though this is what the FLIR is pointed at.

Does anyone know what 0 ATA is in this case? It is referred too alongside the incorrect -5 FLIR angle. Is this possible some indication of the speed of the trace 0 ATA meaning still, ie hovering?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Does anyone know what 0 ATA is in this case?
ATA is the radar angle relative to the plane's forward axis. It stands for "Antenna Train Angle"

This is another inconsistency, if the ATA was 0°, then then the ATFLIR heading should start at 0°, but it starts at 6R, and then moved towards and then past 0°.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
ATA is the radar angle relative to the plane's forward axis. It stands for "Antenna Train Angle"

This is another inconsistency, if the ATA was 0°, then then the ATFLIR heading should start at 0°, but it starts at 6R, and then moved towards and then past 0°.
Also why would an unslaved ATFLIR show a RADAR ATA? Unless again you are incorectly assuming the ATFLIR is pointing at a track.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Also why would an unslaved ATFLIR show a RADAR ATA? Unless again you are incorectly assuming the ATFLIR is pointing at a track.
I'm not assuming that.

I suspect the report is simply using the term ATA to refer to what they saw on screen at some point. It says:
2021-05-11_12-26-54.jpg
Figure 2 is a poor quality photocopy, however from the context we can tell it's approximately at 5150 4150 which is 17 seconds into the video.
2021-05-11_12-29-47.jpg
This shows 3°R and +6° (Not 0° and -5°)
 
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gtoffo

Active Member
I'm not assuming that.

I suspect the report is simply using the term ATA to refer to what they saw on screen at some point. It says:
2021-05-11_12-26-54.jpg
Figure 2 is a poor quality photocopy, however from the context we can tell it's approximately at 5150, which is 17 seconds into the video.
2021-05-11_12-29-47.jpg
This shows 3°R and +6° (Not 0° and -5°)
Well this is interesting...

You mean 4150? How could you determine that from that poor copy?

I guess they might have made the following mistake: they saw 5° and saw the object below the artificial horizon so assumed this was -5°? Underwoods inconsistent testimony might have also pushed them in the wrong direction.
 

lougiants

New Member
Mick, I don't believe that this was an F-18 that Underwood was tracking -
In my opinion the craft that Underwood was tracking was actually an F-22 Raptor.
This was a revolutionary plane both in stealth, design and also the first operational aircraft to combine supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single weapons platform.
This plane could break Mach 1 without the use of afterburners.
It was in 2003 when the AF first got its first operational planes for test and evaluations.

I believe that this was the plane that caused Underwoods confusion and systems to act the way they did.
Heck that's why they designed the plane the way they did and why it cannot be exported like the rest of our planes.

Also, radar jamming paints FALSE targets on an enemy radar, who knows what systems and capabilities is actually on the F-22 to make it a look like a "tic tac"....or maybe not really moving to maybe have the enemy think they are looking at a balloon.
Last point, the Raptor is AF, not Navy.... so quite possibly the Navy had no idea this plane was being tested or of they did, when they brought this video to the attention of their superiors THEY knew this was an F-22 but could say nothing cause it was still in trials and could not say anything.

Just a thought
 
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