The mysterious aircraft spotted in Area 51 could be Air Force's new fighter
Speculations are flying high after The Drive spotted a mysterious, never-seen-before aircraft in satellite imagery captured over Area 51. The resolution of the image may not be great but it's good enough to get broad details about the aircraft and its appearances.
Satellite images are a great way to keep an eye on your adversaries. While militaries send spy satellites to collect intelligence, even commercial satellites can provide vital pieces of information. A few months ago, images captured by Planet Labs, a commercial service provider, found that China was building missile silos in its North-Central region. Images captured by the same service have now leaked what might be America's next-generation fighter.
According to the descriptions provided by The Drive, the aircraft is roughly 65 feet ( ~20 m) long and 50 feet (15.24 m) wide. The delta-shaped body of the aircraft does not have a tail and its wings appear almost organically out of the fuselage, much like the Concorde, the website reported.
The unmissable shape and along with 'rolled' wingtips have led to the speculation that the aircraft could be supersonic by design without an afterburner. According to The Drive, the presence of the aircraft does fit the timeline Lockheed Martin's CEO had referred to in 2016 when he said that F-22 flying demonstrator with a hypersonic engine could be made in a matter of few years.
The U.S. Air Force is also keen on hypersonic flights and this could in all probability also be a demonstrator for the SR-72 that is slated to make its first flight by 2025. While this is planned to be an uncrewed aircraft, the satellite imagery reveals very little to confirm any of these finer details.
The fact that the aircraft is not even spotted during flight has even led to Popular Mechanics speculating that this could actually be the F-16XL that was tested in the 1990s but never went into production. Either the U.S. military is burying what is left of it or reviving a derivative form to meet the needs until the fifth generation F-35s take over.
What might be more likely though is that it is the next-generation fighter aircraft demonstrator that the U.S. military is having a look at. It is unclear who has built it or the capabilities it possesses but instead of being spotted as an unidentified flying object was actually spotted while on the ground.
It does raise some questions though. Area 51 attracts the attention not only of the public but also militaries around the world. If the U.S. were preparing to test their next-generation fighter jet, why put it in a place where it was most likely to be found. More importantly, why put it out in the open. Unless you wanted adversaries to spot it and make note of it.
With Russia blowing its trumpet about its stealth drone hunter, this may be the U.S.'s subtle way of showing what the country is up to.
Everybody has made their guesses. Now, it's time for the authorities to comment.