New Top Secret Construction At Area 51
- Source: KLAS-TV 8 - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
July 19, 2007
I-Team: New Top Secret Construction At Area 51
Chief Investigative Reporter
Something big is in the works at Nevada's legendary Area 51
military base. A massive new building is under construction at
the top secret location. Aviation experts say there's a good
chance that a new, highly classified aircraft might soon be
zipping around the Nevada skies.
What kind of aircraft? One possibility is a successor to the SR-
71 spy plane, the SR-72.
The SR-71 Blackbird is widely regarded as the greatest airplane
ever built. It sliced through the sky at Mach 3 and still
reigns, officially anyway, as the fastest plane in history.
Groom Lake, also known as Area 51, was home for the Blackbird
during its early days. The question is -- will Area 51 also be
the location of choice for the development of a successor, and
maybe more than one?
A photo of a new building under construction at Area 51 has
raised tantalizing possibilities for the civilian researchers
who dabble in such topics. No one can say for certain what the
building will be used for, but aviation historian Peter Merlin
says the one thing we can say is that it's one big hangar.
"It probably measures 275 feet by 600 feet. It's no larger than
hangars at other bases, but it certainly is the largest at Area
51," Peter Merlin said.
Satellite photos confirm Area 51 already has two dozen hangars,
including some less than two years old. So what's going on out
The hangar could be a central maintenance facility, machine shop
and or simulator training center. But aviation writers are
thinking more exotic thoughts. For months, there's been
speculation in aviation circles about a successor to the SR-71,
call it the SR-72. Model airplane companies already have their
version of the so called "dark bird," which theoretically could
fly twice as fast as the Blackbird.
Peter Merlin says he's been told by engineers at Lockheed that
the SR-72 project was canceled, but new reports in aviation
media note the Air Force has just awarded a new contract to
Lockheed for a plane that sounds exactly like the SR-72, a Mach
6 reconnaissance plane that could also carry weapons, and unlike
the SR-71, this one would be unmanned.
It would make for a comfy fit inside that new hangar. But Merlin
thinks there are other possibilities also in the works at Groom
"There are at least seven and maybe as many as eleven manned
classified air craft that have not yet been unveiled that have
been flying since 1985 and countless unmanned programs as well.
Most of these things have been tested there. I know some of the
guys that have flown these airplanes," Merlin continued.
Among the suspects is something called the Black Manta, a
stealthy hypersonic craft that might explain the wispy images
captured in a few photos around the world. Various black
triangle-type craft have been spotted over American military
bases and cities for years, some of them huge in size, big
enough to require a big hangar.
Aviation journalist Bill Sweetman has long argued for the
existence of the Aurora, another plane rumored to have been
flown at Groom Lake. Sweetman says black budget figures hint at
the existence of the plane, which some have dubbed the SR-75
penetrator. Whichever of these ambitious projects ends up in
full development, it's abundantly clear that the testing
location of choice for top secret planes is still Area 51.
The Lockheed Company, whose so-called Skunkworks plant developed
the U-2, SR-71, and stealth fighter -- all of which were test
flown out at Area 51 -- says it will not comment on its new Air
The Air Force is also not talking.
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