Long Distance Drones, Maybe Foreign, as Possible UFOs.

Well, being an amateur drone pilot, I'm sort of starting to love this discussion. However, I'm a bit short on time today, so I'll try to make this short for now . I'd say that, while a quadcopter drone does emit noise, it can be barely inaudible when at height. In this sense, they can be used to spy simply due to being too small to see/hear when flying at a few hundred feet up and there is ambient noise. Some drones have optical zoom (e.g. a Mavic 2 version), some have digital up to 10x (Fimi X8) but given the fact that most have relatively high-res sensors, details can probably be deduced from most photos/videos.

Now, range and flight time for off-the shelf quadcopters is 30-40 min max and around 6 to 10 miles ( with return) for the good ones. Both can be extended through modification, but it depends.. BUT, as long as the video feed works, most modern drones also record the video feed on the phone, so it's conceivably not necessary for the drone to come back once it got the data. It could, for example, overfly a carrier as it's passing close to land and then autoland itself in the sea on low battery. Sure, they cost at least a few hundred bucks a piece, but for a state actor/ organization , that is nothing.

The real risk/capability lies in the fpv racer and flying wing crowd, as posted above. Those are much easier to customize, including for example using 800 MHz or lower frequencies for long range, or using the 4G mobile network for video feed and control .

I'll leave a few YouTube examples of what is capable using modified consumer drones. As far as I understand, most of these are small enough so their radar footprint is too tiny to be picked up, and at the same time small enough to pass unnoticed if flying at a few hundred feet.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDdawbk6GVE

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

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-3reK7i9jQ

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_a9x0vT8l0


New Member
Back in December 2015, one of my favorite authors, David Poyer (30 year naval officer career, retired in 2001), released his novel "Tipping Point". It is part of his long running series following the career of a fictional US naval officer, and the setting is just before WW3 begins between China and the US (if you like sea/military fiction, you should definitely check out his works). Does the section below from page 107 ring any bells? The object in question pops up for a paragraph or so for the next couple books before, MINOR PLOT SPOILER, they focus the radar on it at max power and microwave it out of the sky. Its a Chinese surveillance balloon.

The US has actually used balloons for area surveillance of the USSR in the 1950s, pre-satellite and pre U-2, see Project Genetrix for details (covered in Shadow Flights: Americas Secret Air War Against The Soviet Union, by Curtis Peebles). They were not super effective, mainly because to retrieve the photographs, the balloon payload had to be physically recovered, which involved waiting to pick up its tracking beacon after it drifted across a continent, also, the areas photographed were only slightly less than random. Impressively, a significant minority of payloads were recovered. Also, the soviets picked a lot of them up and were understandably annoyed.

I think they would be much more viable now, as communications technology is much more advanced, so they could report back remotely, and perhaps network with each other to extend communication range. So within the context of spying on the navy, my use case is as follows. Release a balloon up wind of the training area, or perhaps float it into the training area on a small underwater UAV (unmanned aquatic vehicle :) ) and deploy it if it drifts into the target zone. Once the balloon floats out of the target area, or it is in danger of going over land, or it thinks something is getting close to it, it will pop itself. The small, (at least relative to the 1950s sensors package) will sink to the bottom of the sea, and the balloon its self will disintegrate, so any evidence will be hard to find. Any data retrieved would be transmitted back to a remote location before destruction.

For reference, here is a guy back in 2015 sending a GoPro up in a balloon.
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y0nHhFGXDo


Senior Member.
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?

In the spirit of knowing what the current state of drones currently in use, it may also be good to remember the anti-drone activity as well. I follow many different YouTube channels trying to stay up to date with technology from all areas, and this one was of interest for many reasons.

In recent tests at Eglin Air Force Base, DARPA’s Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program demonstrated a Counter-Unmanned Air System (C-UAS) multilayer defense architecture to defeat unauthorized drone intrusions over military installations or operations. Development of this low-cost reusable drone interceptor system approach began four years ago with the aim of creating an integrated system for thwarting attacks from self-guided small unmanned aircraft. The goal is to protect high value convoys moving through potentially populated regions where there is a requirement to avoid using explosive defensive weapons and mitigate collateral damage.
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An interceptor drone is fired from a moving vehicle to then seek out invading drones and use any means necessary to stop them without destructive explosives, including shooting "strong, stringy streamers" at them to foul the propellers.

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I like to keep track of what's currently being tested and used in the field like this to give me a better idea of what exists in the real world, it can serve to give debunkers concrete factual information in a world of guesswork and supposition. From these unclassified efforts by the military and their contractors available for us to see it can also shed light on the dark programs we can't see, and where they may be looking in fields like force preservation.


Active 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.

Drone swarms and "Mosaic Warfare" (a DARPA term) are currently explored as the future of warfare by many armed forces the world over, and by every service branch of the US Armed Forces. Even the Marine Corps is exploring kamikaze drone swarms (OPF-I, Organic Precision Fire-Infantry). Tactically, drones operated by the military can be deployed for (1) intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), (2) tactical deception (TD) and (3) strike.

In other words, "spying" is only one of many tactical uses and capabilities for drones explored by militaries. In terms of UAP, these 3 different tactical uses result in somewhat different-looking capabilities and tests, including their footage and RADAR readings. For instance, a drone swarm deployed for tactical deception may well be intended to be picked up by RADAR technology whereas intelligence and strike drone programs would prioritize developing stealth and surprise capabilities, respectively. All three tactical uses may benefit for being mistaken for civilian drones if spotted.

In terms of drone swarm strike capabilities, as the former director of DARPA's Strategic Technology Office said in 2018: "The idea will be to send so many weapon and sensor platforms at the enemy that its forces are overwhelmed. The goal is to take complexity and to turn that into an asymmetric advantage."

Given the novelty as well as the strategic importance of drone swarm capabilities, drone swarm tests (especially when deploying LOS drone swarms and especially when used for tactical deception) are (1) bound to astound unsuspecting test subjects (2) and remain highly classified. If pressed to explain leaked footage of classified drone technology (whether US or enemy), Pentagon has little choice but to deny or obfuscate. "UAP" actually provides a convenient smokescreen.

The onus of proof is on the claimant of the more unlikely hypothesis setting forth that Pentagon would always provide straightforward and honest answers on secret capabilities caught by sensors and leaked to the public.
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Senior Member
I guess this is the thread for this -- I just ran across this picture of the new refueling drone MQ-25 Stingray. From many angles, the big long wings are very noticeable, but from others it is interestingly tic tac or cigar shaped, and the fact that itis shown refueling a FA-18, and is about the same size, is also noteworthy. In some pictures at least on version is painted white.

I don't see it as being what Fravor et al saw, but it is an interesting example of the range of things that might show up in a test range, and be seen by pilots, and misidentified or remain unidentified.

The photo comes up in Google search as being from the linked page below, though it is not actually visible on the page that I can find.



The feat was accomplished after an F/A-18 test pilot flew in close formation behind the MQ-25 during the initial part of the flight to ensure stability for refueling -- with as little as 20 feet of separation between the unmanned aircraft and the fighter jet's refueling probe -- according to the statement.

"This history-making event is a credit to our joint Boeing and Navy team that is all-in on delivering MQ-25's critical aerial refueling capability to the fleet as soon as possible," Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security in the statement.

Adding just before posting: Here is a white version from defensenews.com, dated 2018.
Image clipped from video at that link.

Brian Dunning

New Member
If anyone's interested, my episode on the USS Kidd included a rundown of commercial high-endurance drones on the market (as well as the MQ-8 and MQ-9):

...The market also includes industrial high endurance drones (such as this, this, this, this, and others), used for such purposes as inspections, search and rescue, security, aerial surveying and mapping, and agriculture. Flight times of over 5 hours and ranges over 200 kilometers have been available for some time — at a price, of course. Some use gas-electric hybrid power, some use rotary gas engines. High payload capacities allow all such craft to carry auxiliary fuel tanks to extend their endurance even farther.

Brian Dunning

New Member
I just ran across this picture of the new refueling drone MQ-25 Stingray. From many angles, the big long wings are very noticeable, but from others it is interestingly tic tac or cigar shaped, and the fact that itis shown refueling a FA-18, and is about the same size, is also noteworthy. In some pictures at least on version is painted white.
These are all on Link 16 (or similar) and clearly identified on F-18 screens.

Mick West

Staff member


Senior Member.
In the spirit of knowing what the current state of drones currently in use

Hello me, it's me again! 3 quick things to update on when it comes to current drone activity:

First off, a recent drug bust here in my state had me wishing to reiterate, drones are becoming more and more frequent in use for the illegal drug trade, thus more likely to be misidentified by those who may not know what it is they are seeing.

Yuma Sector’s Counter Drone Team seized a unmanned aircraft carrying about six pounds of heroin.

In addition to the drugs, agents also noticed the drone had a GPS tracker.

These packages of hard narcotics are often equipped with trackers to allow smugglers waiting on the northern side of the border to easily find the packages after they are dropped.

For Yuma Sector, this is the third drone drug smuggling encounter of the year.

Previous busts have found pounds of meth.
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“We’ve seen it in the past, but in recent months we’re seeing a slight uptick with the use of the drones,” said Agent Justin Castrejon. “They are using the cover of night mostly to smuggle illegal contraband into the U.S.”
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Secondly, a recent update on the Gremlins project from DARPA, a successful recapture of an UAV by an airplane has taken place. Something else that might look funny to someone who sees an alien tic-tac UFO attacking a C-130 instead of a new tactical resource for our military.


An unmanned air vehicle demonstrated successful airborne recovery during the DARPA Gremlins program’s latest flight test deployment last month. During the deployment, two X-61 Gremlin Air Vehicles (GAV) successfully validated all autonomous formation flying positions and safety features before one GAV ultimately demonstrated airborne recovery to a C-130.
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Lastly, and while not technically a drone, it's kind of totally "out there" nuts... and knowledge this exists is helpful.
So, up in Canada a company called Space Engine Systems will use a massive balloon to drop a UAV named SEXBOMB from space, which will go shooting off on a test flight at mach 5 if all things go correctly.


Tell me if someone luckily caught sight of that from a high flying passenger jet they wouldn't think the aliens had finally come!


SES will deploy its Sexbomb lift body aircraft from a stratospheric balloon that lifts it to 110,000 ft. It will free fall to Mach 1.8 where the DASS engine ram jet fires to take it to Mach 5 at 57,000 ft over the northern barren lands, before gliding back to Lynn Lake.
Content from External Source

Also, to people like @Mick West who like to stay up to date with things like this last one here, the StratoCat twitter account is rife with knowledge of high flying "UFO" looking vehicles, their launch times and flight paths, all kinds of good stuff. Might be worth a follow.




Senior Member.
Also, to people like @Mick West who like to stay up to date with things like this last one here, the StratoCat twitter account is rife with knowledge of high flying "UFO" looking vehicles, their launch times and flight paths, all kinds of good stuff. Might be worth a follow.


Hate to reawaken this again in a thread about drones, but I found it interesting that the Corridor Crew, (who have recently been debunking UFO videos from a VFX animation professional's point of view,) recently used the StratoCat website to pretty definitively identify from RAW video an unidentified flying object sent in to them for identification.

For no-click purposes I'll give you a few screenshots if you don't want to watch the "highly entertaining for YouTube clicks" video with a click-bait title. It was a project Loon balloon test that happened to appear in a 5 hour timelapse shot hovering around "unlike anything seen before by NASA telescope operators" in the original footage.

Really cool stuff, and I suggest a follow of the StratoCat account again for debunking purposes.

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Senior Member.
Back in 2014, a plan to use drones was being hatched to trick people they were seeing UFO's
Compare https://www.metabunk.org/threads/hoax-glowing-tic-tac-ufo-in-southern-france-possibly-a-drone.12125/ .

However, that doesn't require long-distance drones, and probably wouldn't fool military sensors. The justification behind programs like the US UAPTF (unidentified aerial phenomena task force) is that these unidentified sightings could represent foreign threats. (See https://www.metabunk.org/threads/pentagon-june-2021-report-on-120-uap-incidents.11784/ )
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