Explained: Jet Chasing UFO: X-45A and F/A-18B Formation Flight

Mick West

Staff member

This is not new, in fact, it's probably been identified several times since the original video cropped 12 years ago, up back in 2007:
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTfMaDEuNzE

But it just popped up again on Facebook, labeled as a UFO. I recognized it, and so tried to look it up again. It took me about half an hour to track down the video! So I'm just writing this post to save people time.

The small jet is an X-45A, an unmanned aircraft. It was an early proof-of-concept vehicle, and was smaller than the later versions of the X-45. Only two were built, and both are in museums now. It's a lozenge-shaped plane with dark wings that fade into the sky.

Metabunk 2019-04-07 16-59-32.jpg

Metabunk 2019-04-07 16-58-40.jpg

Metabunk 2019-04-07 16-55-55.jpg

This video from NASA shows a close-up of the formation flight with the F/A-18 at 4:24
Source: https://youtu.be/uCLCq_ggCL4?t=26

Robert Sheaffer

New Member
This video is from 2002, the first flight..

On Nov. 16, 2004, the second X-43A, and presumably its support aircraft, flew at almost Mach 10 off the coast of San Diego. Two days exactly after the (reported) time of the filming of the famous Tic-Tac UFO. In the same place. Coincidence?

Alexandria Nick

Active Member
This video is from 2002, the first flight..

On Nov. 16, 2004, the second X-43A, and presumably its support aircraft, flew at almost Mach 10 off the coast of San Diego. Two days exactly after the (reported) time of the filming of the famous Tic-Tac UFO. In the same place. Coincidence?

I think coincidence. I'm not sure there's much in the way of similarity between the two.

The drop point for the tests were a few dozen miles west of the Tic-Tac area. That would have been the boost phase and cruise phases, where there was an exhaust plume so huge that the actual X-43A is practically indistinguishable. Plus, the altitudes are all wrong. The X-43A was zoom climbing from 39k to 100k+, so it is unlikely any pilot would see the X-43 below them (excepting the B-52 crew right after the drop!). It was also moving obscenely fast, which also makes me doubt a confused identity.

When the X-43As engine was powered down and the vehicle was in the glide phase, it was almost a thousand miles from where the Tic-Tac was, making it almost impossible to have been an X-43A.

Alexandria Nick

Active Member
It definitely would have. You'd have something climbing at an enormous rate of speed, covering a downrange distance of about 50 miles in a really short period of time, followed by a second vehicle dropping from a very high altitude at an equally high speed (the spent Pegasus booster) at the same time. I'm not personally convinced that the X-43 flight could be related to the Tic-Tac, but it does seem like it might merit some investigation and discussion in the appropriate thread (if the relevant NOTAMs from the 2004 test flight could be tracked down, there'd be some interesting hints in there).
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