The real TR-3

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Message posted by Vahe Demirjian (Member since 04/28/2022) on October 11, 2023 at 14:17:41 PST:

Everyone is familiar with rumors in the early 1990s that the US Air Force operated a stealthy tactical reconnaissance flying wing (dubbed "TR-3" and "Black Manta" in some publications), even though it is now apparent that the "Black Manta" never existed. I noticed on page 17 of the publication "Air Force UAVs: The Secret History" that former deputy NRO director David A. Kier mentioned an early 1990s proposal for a reconnaissance UAV of smaller size than the AARS, informally dubbed TR-3. As noted in the footnote section of this publication on page 65, the aircraft with the informal designation TR-3 described by Kier as being the size of a Cessna 172 is most likely the EGRETT sailplane-like reconnaissance UAV jointly developed by the German aircraft company Grob and the US companies E-Systems and Garrett. The EGRETT bore the official German acronym LAPAS (Luftgestütztes, Abstandsfähiges Primär-Aufklärungssystem = airborne, longp-range primary reconnaissance system) and went by the US Air Force codename Senior Guardian. The EGRETT, which was made of composities, would have been moderately stealthy in its capacity as a reconnaissance UAV, but even though the Luftwaffe ordered nine examples of the D-500 EGRETT II that followed the initial D-450 EGRETT I development aircraft, the post-Cold War environment caused the production order for the EGRETT II to be canceled.

Given that Kier mentioned the Cessna 172-sized alternative to the AARS was informally called "TR-3", it is unclear if USAF officials were simply floating TR-3 as a possible designation for Senior Guardian and were thus not yet ready to assign an official designation for the EGRETT because ER-2 was assigned by NASA to a few U-2s for scientific research (hence "ER" standing for "Earth Resources") and wasn't a military designation (when making up rumors about the "Black Manta", William Scott referred to the non-existent "Black Manta" as "TR-3" unaware that ER-2 was a NASA designation and hence not an R-for-Reconnaissance designation sequence).

Attached link: Air Force UAVs: The Secret History


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