|Manufacturer Northrop Corporation|
Similar Boeing E 3 Sentry, General Atomics MQ 9 Reaper, Douglas A-20 Havoc
Tr 3 black manta
The TR-3 Black Manta is the name of a surveillance aircraft of the United States Air Force, speculated to be developed under a black project. The only known confirmed evidence for such an aircraft is based on speculations about several reported sightings of mysterious flying wing aircraft over Antelope Valley, an area of desert in southern California. This stretch of desert draws people interested in potential "black project"-related aircraft, because it is close to several known military research and testing areas, such as Edwards Air Force Base in California, and United States Air Force Plant 42.
Tr3b tr 3 black manta
The TR-3 was said to be a subsonic stealth spy plane with a flying wing design. It was alleged to have been used in the Gulf War to provide laser designation for Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk bombers, for targeting to use with laser-guided bombs. The TR-3 was claimed to have been manufactured by Northrop.
How the TR-3 designation came up in publications is unclear. It is clearly not a continuation of the R-for-Reconnaissance series, since ER-2 (NASA designation for U-2 aircraft modified for Earth science studies) stood for "Earth Resources", not "Electronic Reconnaissance". It is, therefore possible that TR-3 is merely a corruption of Tier III, a name given to a cancelled large reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying wing designed around the time of alleged sightings of the Black Manta, circa 1988–1990. The Tier III Minus program that resulted in the unsuccessful Lockheed Martin RQ-3 DarkStar was a scaled-down derivative of the original Tier III.
Potential candidates for TR-3
Because there is little evidence to support TR-3's existence, only sightings and "experience" stories by real people and also the web discussions on it, it is possible that the mysterious flying wing sightings associated with Black Manta could be a technology demonstrator for a potential new-generation tactical reconnaissance aircraft. This contention is supported by United States Air Force (USAF) sources in the late 1980s confirming that the United States had no short-term plans to develop a low-observable U-2 successor.
Another candidate for the alleged spy plane is a design from Teledyne Ryan, patented in the United States on April 26, 1977, under number 4,019,699. This aircraft of low observability, as it is called, was invented by Robert W. Wintersdorff and George R. Cota, employees at Teledyne Ryan, a firm specialized in building unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. On May 10, 1977, a design of an aircraft was patented by Teledyne Ryan under number Des. 244,265, and closely resembles the earlier mentioned example. This design was made by Waldo Virgil Opfer. The first design is unmanned, the second one manned. Whether one of these designs is related to the above-mentioned TR-3 is not positively identified, but it is a coincidence that TR also stands for Teledyne Ryan. Teledyne Ryan was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 1999.