Long Distance Drones, Maybe Foreign, as Possible UFOs.

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
While it is of course possible that some UFOs seen buzzing restricted military areas are aliens craft, a more likely possibility, at least in the last ten years, is that they are drones.

Russia, China, Iran, and other countries have historically spied on the US. There are also domestic threats (e.g. anti-globalist militias) who might want to keep an eye on the military for a variety of reasons.

So I thought it might be useful to open a discussion about what drones are available. What are the limits in terms of range, speed, and maneuverability? What do those drones look like? What's possible now that we know of, and what might be possible with a larger military budget? What does it take to eliminate the possibility of a drone?

Let's say you wanted to spy on the US military, how would you do it with a drone?

At the very simplest the drone needs to be deployed, travel to the target, try to avoid detection, acquire information, and return that information to the operator. Let's break those down:

Deployment
  • Static land-based site - simply from somewhere within traveling distance of the target
  • Moving land-based - e.g. from the bed of a pickup truck - or more exotically, the top of a train
  • Moving air-based - launched or dropped from a plane or balloon. Could be very high altitude.
  • Boat - anything from a fishing boat to a cargo ship.
  • Submarine - the most obvious for spying on something like a battle fleet out to sea. Two variants:
    • Surface launch - launched from the conning tower, or even the deck. Problems with detectability
    • Underwater launch - the drone is carried to the surface in some buoyant container, and then takes off.
Travel
  • Quadcopter (or similar) flight
  • Fixed-wing flight
  • Hybrid flight (larger fixed-wing drops small quads for the last mile)
Avoiding Detection
  • Staying low - on approach, to avoid both visual and radar. Staying inches about the ground or water would be ideal
  • Moving fast - both avoids detection and some countermeasures.
  • Being small - The smaller something is, the harder it is to see or detect.
  • Disguise - like as a bird, or even an insect. Boats are not going to shoot down every seagull that comes close. At least not yet.
Acquire information
  • Video and Audio - most drones of any worth have a 4K camera. Probably not audio though, with the prop noise.
  • GPS - for following mobile units or ships. Could even land on the ship for a while
  • Radio and other sensors? Could even hack into the ship's WiFi.
Return the information - either physically or wirelessly.
  • Flying back - this doubles the travel time and halves the range. However, it allows the greatest amount of data to be returned with multiple 4K video files
  • Wireless transmission - this ensures the information gets back, even if the drone is destroyed or malfunctions. It also avoids the risk of the drone being followed back to the retrieval point, which greatly improves the security of the operation.
 

jarlrmai

Active Member
Random thoughts

You could have the drone collect the information, store locally in a rugged storage device and then dump in the see with a beacon for retrieval.

The main problem is as you allude to small drones = short range, you can't easily launch a small drone and spy on a on say a carrier group because your drone is so range limited you'd have to have the launch platform and control too near the carrier group and it would be detected unless you are doing a whole "fake fishing trawler" Cold War thing.

Drone range is further limited by winds etc.

Long range drones are basically planes, so are detected and intercepted in the same way as spy planes, remember the US has overwhelming global traditional air superiority, probably why small commercial style drones are the new threat.

Commercial drones in the US and most other countries have software that has mandated GPS geo restrictions on where they can be flown and all military bases would be covered.

Land bases in the mainland US could possibly be spied upon by using drones purchased locally by agents inserted into the US and modified to remove the restrictions on airspace or an unlimited drone smuggled in somehow. However the areas around the most secret bases are patrolled and these bases are in the middle of deserts etc meaning you have the same control/retrieval issue. It's possible that these areas are no longer large enough to avoid some drones though.

Some overseas bases might be easier to spy on in this way though.

Quadrocopter style drones are also quite loud it strikes me that detection of them might be best done by using sensitive microphones and software listening for that drone whine.

Tiny drones that fly like insects and birds are on the research horizon and perhaps are further ahead than we are being shown but I think they are still impractical for now. Something that can soar on thermals like a vulture/eagle etc would be useful i'd imagine.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The main problem is as you allude to small drones = short range, you can't easily launch a small drone and spy on a on say a carrier group because your drone is so range limited you'd have to have the launch platform and control too near the carrier group and it would be detected unless you are doing a whole "fake fishing trawler" Cold War thing.
Which is not impossible. Indeed with the miniaturization of the equipment, it's plausible to just embed one guy with a disposable backpack of stuff, the data being returned on a 1TB micro-sd card
2021-03-23_08-55-42.jpg

Overcoming the range aspect to some degree would be an underwater launch from a submarine. But there's an unknown there of how close they can get in the sub without being detected.

The point of the speculation is to see if certain things can be ruled out. Given time, creative minds can find unexpected solutions to problems that seem insurmountable. If a big sub can't get close enough to launch, then it could use an auxiliary underwater stealth vehicle (an underwater drone) for the last 20 miles. e.g. the Status-6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status-6_Oceanic_Multipurpose_System

Publically there are several underwater launched drones out there, with the US Navy even talking about them

Article:
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has developed and demonstrated a submarine-launched unmanned aerial system (SLUAS) for beyond line-of-sight targeting solutions and deployed it to the fleet in September 2020, the Navy’s submarine procurement admiral said.
...
Only eight months after the project was started, the Navy conducted an at-sea demonstration of the SLUAS from the Los Angeles-class SSN USS Annapolis, launching them “from periscope depth, control them out to tactically significant ranges — well beyond the line of sight,” Goggins said. “By doing so she was able to target and conduct a rapid simulated torpedo attack against a participating surface ship, in case the USS Charleston, pretty much at near-maximum effective range of that torpedo, by flying that UAV to obtain a fire-point solution after gaining that initial sonar gain.”


And they are talking about semi-autonomous very small drones that stay in the air for an hour.

Article:
The Navy requires the capability of a SLUAS with a 3-inch diameter form-factor to provide enhanced sensor, communication and cyber-security capabilities. The integrated system should be capable of launch from the US submarine fleet’s 3-inch Signal System Ejector (SSE) equipment. The SLUAS All-Up-Round (AUR) includes the integrated submarine deployment canister and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The AUR capabilities are limited by the physical limitations of the canister and payload, as well as by qualifications of the system for single mission, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). The folding wing UAV is a high reliability, submarine-launched small diameter aircraft capable of conducting ISR missions in contested ocean environments. Threshold performance of the air vehicle should include electro-optic capability with reliable target solution analysis. The vehicle should remain airborne for at least one hour, operate at ranges out to the line-of-sight radio horizon, and use a variable bandwidth encrypted datalink with at least 256-bit encryption strength. Objective requirements include the ability to operate in an emission-controlled environment and operate without constant radio communication links.

The AUR design requires the flexibility to allow for modifications to adapt to deployments of various unmanned vehicles and payloads over the course of the next five (5) years.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
US Navy documents illustrate this type of scenario - but with more of a focus on coordinating attacks.
Article:
Submarine Launched Unmanned Aerial Systems (SLUAS) integration
and advanced development
• Combat Systems prototyping to enable integration of Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) on Submarines
• Implementing the vision for UxS C2 via experimentation (ANTX) and advanced development (ONR)

2021-03-23_09-17-16.jpg

(Organic UAV means an unmanned aerial vehicle that is assigned to a particular unit, and in this case probably means the sub)

Thinking beyond just simple "spying", such flights could actually be tests of an offensive system - like they are simply testing if the ship can detect the UAV.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Thinking about older cases, this 2007 document (Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2007-2032) is a useful look at the then state-of-the art.
https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a475002.pdf




2021-03-23_09-53-04.jpg


Seems like at the time the state of the art small was the Raytheon Coyote, which looks like the "Organic UAV". It's launched from "a standard airborne sonobuoy dispenser" (from a plane).

More recent developments discuss the latest iteration of the Coyote, jet-powered:
Article:
This contract provides for work on the Coyote Block 3 (CB3) Autonomous Strike—a rapid capability effort to achieve operational launch capability from unmanned surface vessels (USVs) and an unmanned underwater vessel (UUV).

The intended concept of operations (CONOP) and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) are to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and precision strike capability from maritime platforms. Additionally, the High Volume Long Range Precision Strike (HVLRPS) from USVs and Fires (HVLRPF) from UUVs demonstrations will leverage prior efforts including the Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) and progress on the Mobile Precision Attack Vehicle (MoPAV).


Interestingly the Coyote was originally designed as an anti-drone defensive weapon.
 

LorentzHall

New Member
I think you're definitely onto something here. Lockheed Martin's Cormorant was the first to do this as far as I'm aware, tested in the 2004-2005 era: https://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-space/article/2006-02/navys-swimming-spy-plane/

1616680479942.png

However, the use of "drones" as a catch-all term needs to end. The vehicles described here are fixed wing. They are launched in a very literal sense, by the VLS tubes (originally meant for cruise missiles & anti-ship missiles), with considerable force & acceleration.

Current practical designs all follow the same "fold-out from a tube" design because that's what can practically survive such a launch.

1616680692392.png

This would not be a viable launch vector for quadcopters. Submarine launched unmanned platforms are thus unable to hover.

To launch a quadcopter from a submarine, it would need to surface. Any hostile submarine surfacing anywhere near the US coast would be detected almost immediately (from past incidents of Russian subs).
 

jarlrmai

Active Member
It's worth holding in mind that this is all US sources, the budget, scope and power of the US military is vast compared to even other 'superpower' nations. They have a global reach with subs/carriers/satellites/aircraft etc that creates a CNC system that allows drones to be operated like that. Maybe China/Russia could attempt this kind of thing but even they don't have anywhere near the global reach the US military does.

Sure you can launch a drone from a sub, but the carrier group has whole sections designed to look for enemy subs in the area so you are now playing back into the hands of the US by using a conventional system as launch and control. Plus I see spying with conventional drones as a deniable thing could just be civilian messing around, you launch it from a nuclear sub well that's not deniable.

Either way there's a difference between a military operating drones as part of operations and a military backed but using deniable civilian tech effort.

So you have your disposable 'man with backpack' commercial drones which lack range and autonomy but are small enough to slip through the gaps in a system designed to look for conventional aircraft/subs etc. Then military 'spec' drones which have the capability to spy on a carrier fleet, but by necessity they are large enough or require conventional support to be detectable by current systems.

Maybe there's an in between system small enough to slip through the gaps and capable of operating at distance but it would be cutting edge even for the US. This is starting to sound like a modern day "UFOs are the Skunkworks secret black project/Aurora" theories though, which are not without merit.

I think I agree though UAPs for the USMIL are likely investigated to see if they might be enemy drones.
 

gtoffo

Member
Why would secret spy drones emit light and be so visible?

Only logical explanation would if light was a necessary byproduct of their propulsion/power systems.

Propellers don't emit light.
Jets can be somewhat luminous at night but their range would be even more restricted. Not very probable.
Rockets emit light but range goes even lower.
Something exotic?
 

gtoffo

Member
Who said they did? Maybe you meant to post in the Kidd thread?
Well those sightings are certainly examples of "drones emitting light".

If those were "foreign spy drones" then my assumption would make sense: they somehow need the source of the "light" to stay aloft. This could give us an idea of the kind of tech being used.

The only other option to explain lights in spy drones would be illuminating a target (although more stealthy means are available so it wouldn't really make sense).

In any case... The crucial limiting factor for drones is definitely range and endurance.

Balloons are one easy way of staying up in the air for a long time and they are used for surveillance not just by governments (https://www.wired.com/2015/09/balloon-spy-probe-deep-sweep/). They can be water launched, have small radar cross sections and don't emit heat.

Also they can inflate and deflate to change shape and could potentially land in the water and transition between air and water? With some electric motors and solar panels they could be self sufficient for a long time. Float along the sea most of the time and then take off when needed to take pictures etc. and land back in the water. Recharge batteries while floating in the water (even for a long time) and repeat.
 
I don't think they were foreign drones TBH.

But if it were a foreign drone, they could be launched/collected by a sub or by a long range fixed wing drone. I have seen examples of drones launched from bigger drones before. Or they can transmit a feed to a satellite and then ditch the drone and have it sink when it's 2-3 hours are up.

Drone launching another drone example:

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/...drone-launched-another-drone-2021-4?r=US&IR=T


And the US has some really weird stuff they have developed going back many years like below:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC97wdQOmfI


Also, very interesting , long range hybrid drone with 2000w generator for the electric motors
3 hours and 100km range, but they didn't say if it could have gone further

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqtv4XAWeC8
 
Last edited:

gtoffo

Member
I don't think they were foreign drones TBH.
Why not?

Any of the other examples would be highly visible on radar unless those were also stealth drones able to spoof the Navy's radars. Big metal engines. Rotors. Etc.

We know that those reports talk about "tansmedium" vehicles. So the idea that they would hide in the water/be submarine launched makes sense.

Jeremy Corbell talked about a submarine also looking for one of them.
 

LorentzHall

New Member
That Lockheed Martin MKV video is an impressive demo, but that would be most of its fuel used up.

It's not a long range system, those little thrusters are for manuevering in the last seconds to hit a target.
 

Alphadunk

New Member
Some of those shots of the quad in the distance where the rotors are no longer visible and the motor noise is no longer audible are pretty "otherworldly" looking! I don't think most people outside the hobby understand the speed, acceleration, and maneuverability possible with modern equipment. I could definitely see parts of that video, if selectively cut, making the rounds on UFO Twitter and the like.
 

purpleivan

Member
That's amazing.

Obviously for such performance you need to have a super light vehicle and you therefore get only minutes of flight time
I agree.

My initial thought on seeing the video was "I really want one of those", closely followed by "I don't want to go anywhere near one of those".
 

CeruleanBlu

Senior Member.
One reason for so much unwillingness of the various military agencies to share information about a few of these sightings is the ongoing development and testing of devices like this, the tethered UAS, which has effectively unlimited duration for persistent surveillance on a 100 meter power and data transmission cable. These are handy for many scenarios, and can be deployed from any location or vehicle, including ships & submarines at sea.

ORION 2 - Advanced Tethered UAS for Military and Government Agencies


Screenshot 2021-04-21 21.19.01.pngScreenshot 2021-04-21 21.20.12.png

Source
 

JMartJr

Active Member
One reason for so much unwillingness of the various military agencies to share information about a few of these sightings is the ongoing development and testing of devices like this, the tethered UAS, which has effectively unlimited duration for persistent surveillance on a 100 meter power and data transmission cable. These are handy for many scenarios, and can be deployed from any location or vehicle, including ships & submarines at sea.

ORION 2 - Advanced Tethered UAS for Military and Government Agencies

For some historical context, the basic concept has been realized in the past, before the existence of modern drones and digital cameras, to loft a human observer under a kite (or string of kites.) American Samuel Francis Cody developed a train of winged box kites for this purpose. The British Admiralty conducted tests on Cody Kites towed behind ships, and the War Office hired Cody to build kites ad train Army personnel in their use in the early 1900s.
tumblr_mmegnj9gnF1rwpzb0o1_640.jpg



There was a somewhat similar system investigated in France using a triangular box kite with wings around 1910. (below)9b90f4c7-4995-4884-b68a-2279669ffb1e_1.924d349d8272a017e833f3340e965f29.jpeg
Earlier work included Baden-Powell's use of stacked hexagonal kites to lift observers during the Boer War, and a system designed to lift observers during the Spanish American war using rectangular Hargrave box kites that worked was never put into use. (Both in the 1890s)

The development of airplanes which were not wind-dependent put an end to all this, the only post-airplane use of kite-lofted military observers that I know of being during WWII when the Germans deployed The Focke-Achegelis F.A. 330, a towed autogyro kite, on some U-Boats. This one I saw in the USAF Museum in Dayton, OH.
fa-330.jpg
 

gtoffo

Member
That's an impressive drone. Few details are public so I wonder what the power source/engine is. Also those might be maximum capabilities (and possibly overstated).

The picture attached is a bit misleading. It is basically the size of a small helicopter.

It would be extremely easy to track for a Navy ship.
 

gtoffo

Member
Is it a scale model in this article? http://www.chinadefenseobservation.com/?p=4448
I can't find actual specs on the dimensions anywhere.



It does have quite a "tic tac" looking main fuselage, which conceivably could be the only visible part under certain conditions.
No that's what I mean. It's basically an R22 without a cockpit (no pilot needed) and no tail (no need given the contra rotating blades).

man-tanken-robinson-r22-helikopters-boeing-field-seattle-usa-jwjg8x.jpg

An R22 can fly approx 2 hours (with a lot of unnecessary weight)
  • Cruise speed: 96 kn (110 mph, 178 km/h)
  • Never exceed speed: 102 kn (117 mph, 189 km/h)
  • Range: 209 nmi (241 mi, 387 km)
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 ft (4,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min (6.1 m/s)
 
Last edited:
It is nothing like the R-22

The CR500 is about 6 feet long judging from the pictures ive seen. It's also about a 1/3 to 1/4 the height of the R-22
 
The CR500 is quite small. There's an armed version that's been displayed:

CR500.jpg

The missiles mounted onboard are Blue Arrow 7 anti-tank missiles. BA-7s are the air-to-surface export version of the HJ-10 platform. They're 1850mm long, for a sense of scale.
 

gtoffo

Member
Like I said: it's an R22 without cockpit and tail basically.

An autonomous R22 would have comparable performance to the CR500.

man-tanken-robinson-r22-helikopters-boeing-field-seattle-usa-jwjg8x.jpg

The point is:
The Navy might have problems intercepting swarms of small/tiny electric drones with extreme performance characteristics. Or even strange/unusual balloons.
They might be too small to track and target.

They would obliterate a CR500. Easy to track. Normal performance characteristics. Just like shooting an R22 out of the sky. And it would need to originate nearby.
Nothing extraordinary about the CR500. If the Navy can't identify them it would be a shocking revelation of ineptitude by the most powerful armed force on earth.
 
I don't really see the comparison at all. It isn't an "R22 without a cockpit or tail." You've got a pod about seven feet long and two and a half feet wide. That's any helicopter's engine nacelle.

Plus, once you've reduced most of the mass and volume from the R22, the comparison falls apart. It is substantially smaller and looks to be shaped as a low observability vehicle. It has more in common with a cruise missile than a helicopter at that point. It is only half the size of an American AGM-158 JASSM.
 

gtoffo

Member
I don't really see the comparison at all. It isn't an "R22 without a cockpit or tail." You've got a pod about seven feet long and two and a half feet wide. That's any helicopter's engine nacelle.

Plus, once you've reduced most of the mass and volume from the R22, the comparison falls apart. It is substantially smaller and looks to be shaped as a low observability vehicle. It has more in common with a cruise missile than a helicopter at that point. It is only half the size of an American AGM-158 JASSM.
Forget the comparison then. It's (in my opinion correct) but irrelevant. We can agree to disagree.

The point is there are big spinning blades on top of that "little" pod. Huge skids underneath. Big weapon mounts. Nothing is stealth.

It's a not-so-small helicopter. Helicopters are not stealth almost by definition. You can reduce your signature but you are noisy, clumsy, slow, and easily detectable. You can only fly slow and low (that is actually your only way to evade detection: stay extremely low, but, over the sea, there's nowhere to hide).

If a not-so-small remote controlled helicopter can evade detection by the Navy the US Military has a BIG problem on its hands.

Now: a styrofoam autonomous drone powered by flat solar panels on it's back that can fly maybe almost indefinitely and at extreme range? Might have a stealth signature of a small bird and might be performing in ways the US Navy is not equipped to handle. Good luck shooting a missile at that and figuring out where it came from.
 

Scaramanga

New Member
Do we actually know for certain that the 'long range' aspect is necessary ? I've seen a rough map of where the vessels supposedly were, but how accurate is it...and would we be told the exact positions anyway ?

Also, why bother with drones in the middle of the night miles from land when a Nikon P1000 with 135 times zoom from half a mile away at Point Loma ( entrance to naval base ) could see what the Captain is having for breakfast.
 
Do we actually know for certain that the 'long range' aspect is necessary ? I've seen a rough map of where the vessels supposedly were, but how accurate is it...and would we be told the exact positions anyway ?

Also, why bother with drones in the middle of the night miles from land when a Nikon P1000 with 135 times zoom from half a mile away at Point Loma ( entrance to naval base ) could see what the Captain is having for breakfast.


Personally I think it's more likely they launched off San Clements Island. Considering how close all the sitings were to the island.
Combine that with the fact San Clements is a Navy base with an airfield and a drone launch site - even if built for target drones
https://www.dvidshub.net/image/4899308/nmcb-3-det-san-clemente-island-constructs-drone-launch-site
Also, that area is off the closest coast to Creech AFB (One of the worlds largest drone bases). Probably not used for the 2019 drones though
And also, not far from Palmdale where the skunkworks are.
Well, yo can see why I think they might be US drones

But who knows,

It is interesting the USS Russell and Omaha have been reported as experiencing drones in that area, right generally where the Tic Tac event happened in 2004.
 

Scaramanga

New Member
Personally I think it's more likely they launched off San Clements Island. Considering how close all the sitings were to the island.
Combine that with the fact San Clements is a Navy base with an airfield and a drone launch site - even if built for target drones
https://www.dvidshub.net/image/4899308/nmcb-3-det-san-clemente-island-constructs-drone-launch-site
Also, that area is off the closest coast to Creech AFB (One of the worlds largest drone bases)
And also, not far from Palmdale where the skunkworks are.
Well, yo can see why I think they might be US drones

But who knows,

It is interesting the USS Russell and Omaha have been reported as experiencing drones in that area, right generally where the Tic Tac event happened in 2004.
Who better to test new drones on that one's own military. On the other hand...it would rather give away that such technology exists. But then again, one might want to.
 

CeruleanBlu

Senior Member.
This is more like it.


You've actually struck a goldmine of drone related information by posting that video my friend, as I've been following Daniel's YouTube channel for almost a decade now watching him grow and progress in the field of RC flight. He himself is responsible for dozens if not hundreds of UFO reports throughout the years with his creations being seen by others who didn't understand what it was they were seeing at the time.

Working at times for a company who produces heavy lift multi-rotor drone systems for the film industry to carry cameras and lights, he has made some rather stunning videos through the years of his large, brightly lit flying objects that have been mistaken for alien vehicles on many occasions.

Screenshot 2021-04-23 12.39.39.png

Readily commercially available, able to lift more than 18 kilos of weight, highly automated flight controls and an extremely stable platform make his drones a great example of what normal people like you and me could make with a little bit of time, effort and quite a few bucks.

Seriously big bucks in some case. The drone above back in 2017 when this was posted, listed for around $25,000. So this is probably close to $30,000 worth of equipment flying around goofing off.

Once you know that men like Daniel exist, these "strange lights in the sky" reports become so much less mysterious. For the last ten years he and his friends have spent many long nights flying many strange craft in the sky, filming it, and sharing with us on YouTube. It makes the claims from true believers so much more difficult to understand the "otherworldly" claims, when I've been watching similar identified stuff for years.

Screenshot 2021-04-23 12.39.21.png
Screenshot 2021-04-23 12.40.45.png
Screenshot 2021-04-23 12.40.28.png
Screenshot 2021-04-23 12.40.43.png
Screenshot 2021-04-23 12.37.28.png

1/4 MILLION Lumen Drone LED Light

 

gtoffo

Member

U.S. Forces Operating ‘Without Complete Air Superiority’ Due to Small, Armed Drones​

The proliferation of small unmanned aerial systems, usually commercially available drones that can be outfitted to drop weapons, is the most “persistent and dangerous” threat to troops in the Middle East in decades.

“These small- and medium-sized UAS proliferating across the [area of operations] present a new and complex threat to our forces and those of our partners and allies,” U.S. Central Command boss USMC Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. told the House Armed Services Committee on April 20. “For the first time since the Korean War, we are operating without complete air superiority.”
The effectiveness and proliferation of the system is an “area of great concern.”
https://www.airforcemag.com/u-s-for...te-air-superiority-due-to-small-armed-drones/

Woah.....
 

gtoffo

Member
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