Conspiracy theorist heaven, transponder was off over USA soil and low enough/too stealthy to be picked up by conventional or airbourne sentry aircraft, not sure why they didn't activate it before ejecting, as it seems they had time to set auto pilot so it wasn't so panicked an escape.
>and low enough/too stealthy to be picked up by conventional ...
I was reading on another site they normally fly with a radar reflector attached. A Luneberg lens, to be precise. I can understand practising flying low or fast or both. But what advantage would there be in flying invisible on your home turf?
> But what advantage would there be in flying invisible on your home turf?
Off the top of my head:
Simulating the enemy in combat exercises
Being the target for testing new airborne or ground based radar systems
I’m sure there are other reasons.
However, if it was flying low it could simply have been an issue of radar coverage. With complex terrain and conventional (not OTH) ground based radar, it’s perfectly possible to avoid your transponder or a radar reflector getting viably pinged. Been there, done that… Whilst memorably humming the theme from Dambusters and flying low along the centreline of the other Derwent reservoir. The little light that on the transponder panel that shows you’re replying stopped flashing completely whilst we were low to the water in the valley. This F-35 disappeared in lake terrain which probably means it was in a valley.
Given the weird nature of the ejection from an apparently flight worthy aircraft, I also wonder if there could have been a bulk electrical failure that took the transponder offline.
Not the first aircraft to be lost, and won’t be the last. Yet another embarrassing incident for the F-35 though.
Plenty training reasons to fly with beacon off, but you'd think there is a protocol or automated system for it to reactivate when you eject over home soil. But conversely if you dump it on the bottom of the South China Sea you don't want others to locate it before you.
Either way, it's not the 90s anymore, they shouldn't lose aircraft on home ground. Pre gps, you had to wait for an awacs to land and radar recordings be analysed, seismic research places could pick up impacts, and more old school maths with wind direction, air speed, fuel duration, altitude etc.. even with a plb there weren't as many satellites up there to locate them, so triangulation took time.
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