Area 51 & Black Ops Mission Patches: Their Source and Meaning

Area 51 & Black Ops Mission Patches: Their Source and Meaning 2
ABOVE: Unofficial 509th Bomb Wing Insignia, Guststus Similis Pullus is dog Latin for  “Tastes Like Chicken.”
The patches on these pages are from actual operations. 

The Pentagon even tips the hand with their comment – Not prudent to comment on;


“Gives readers a peek into the shadows … Department of Defense spokesman Bob Mehal told Newsweek that it ‘would not be prudent to comment on what patches did or did not represent classified units.’ That’s OK. Some mysteries are more fun when they stay unsolved.”


Karen Pinchin, Newsweek


“Of course, issuing patches for a covert operation sounds like a joke…but truth be told, these days everything is branded. Military symbols are frequently replete with heraldic imagery—some rooted in history, others based on contemporary popular arts that feature comic characters—but these enigmatic dark-op images, in some cases probably designed by the participants themselves, are more personal, and also more disturbing, than most.”


Steven Heller, The New York Times Book Review


In any case, you are free to make up your own mind.

G.H.O.S.T. 

One of the more recent patches from the “Ghost Squadron” based at Groom Lake. The design of the skull’s helmet indicates that “Ghost” is a helicopter unit. The footprints on the helmet mark the trace of the “Jolly Green Giant,” a symbol that represents helicopter search and rescue missions. This patch also seems to indicate that “G.H.O.S.T.” is an acronym for the unit. The meaning of the acronym is unclear.

Spying on the government

The amount of money spent on secret Pentagon projects—the so-called “black budget”—has reached unprecedented levels in the past few years. This level of hidden military spending translates into a variety of extremely peculiar built environments and landscapes. From the popular phenomenon of “Area 51,” to discreet locales like the Helendale Avionics Facility, the Southwest is littered with places where the military develops, tests, and operates technologies that “do not exist.” Among industry insiders, these clandestine infrastructures and secret bases are collectively known as the “black world.”

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TENCAP

TENCAP is an acronym for Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities, a collection of programs that involve developing tactical (battlefield) applications out of reconnaissance satellite capabilities (which are normally thought of as strategic).

 
“Special” almost invariably means “black” or highly classified. The phrase Oderint Dum Metuant is usually associated with Caligula, the first-century Roman emperor whose name became synonymous with depravity, madness, and tyranny. It translates as “Let them hate so long as they fear.”

Desert Prowler

A second patch associated with the classified “Desert Prowler” project. Again, the collection of five-plus-one stars may represent the classified operating location at Groom Lake, Nevada, also known as Area 51.
 
The meaning of the other symbols on this patch is unclear.
 
BUY ON AMAZON

The 6th Joker’s wraith image from the album cover was used on a flight test patch for the Lockheed Skunk Works’ Black Ops Desert Prowler program. It features the wraith with added red eyes, surrounded by six stars with the words “Desert Prowler, Alone and on the Prowl.”

 
The symbol of The Wraith is said to have originated with the The Wraith: Shangri-La, an album by Insane Clown Posse.  
 
The Wraith, which represents the sixth Joker’s Card, is in essence the grim reaper, or death. 
 
According to the group’s mythology, upon your death, the Wraith takes you to either Shangri-La (heaven) or to Hell’s Pit (hell). 
 
In The Wraith: Shangri-La, the ICP guides the listener as The Dark Wraith takes the listener upon an exhibition of heaven (while he may change his mind and try to pull you out of heaven), whereas in the group’s ninth studio album, Hell’s Pit, The Pure Wraith takes the
listener on a voyage through hell. 

Special Projects Flight Test Squadron

On the left of the wizard is the now familiar collection of stars 5 + 1 indicating the unit’s operating location Area 51. Note the shape of the handle on the sword.
 

SPECIAL PROJECTS FLIGHT TEST SQUADRON

 
Based at the Air Force’s secret base near Groom Lake, Nevada, the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron is the Air Force’s only “black” flight test squadron for classified prototype aircraft and advanced concept technology demonstrators.
 
The squadron’s mascot is a wizard. A collection of six stars (5 + 1) on the patch references the unit’s operating location: the secret base known as Area 51. The lowercase Greek sigma symbol in the wizard’s right hand is the engineering symbol for the unknown value of an object’s radar cross section (RCS). The ideal radar signature of a stealth aircraft is zero. While no stealth aircraft has yet achieved this goal, several have come close. On the right side of the patch, the falling globe references the hollow aluminum spheres dropped from the sky to calibrate radar equipment. A sphere of a given size has a known RCS value. Lightning bolts, such as the one emanating from the wizard’s staff, seem to refer to electronic warfare. The aircraft in the lower right is probably a generic symbol representing flight testing of advanced aircraft. The sword at the bottom of the; image refers to a recently declassified Boeing stealth demonstrator known as the “Bird of Prey”: the handle on the sword approximates the shape of the aircraft. 
 
Boeing unveiled its $67 million subsonic stealth technology demonstrator design designated “Bird of Prey” part of a project conducted between 1992 and 1999.
 
Also based at Groom Lake, the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron is the Air Force’s premier “black” squadron for testing classified prototype aircraft. The squadron’s mascot is a wizard. A collection of six stars (five plus one) on the patch is a reference to the unit’s operating location: the secret base known as Area 51. The sigma symbol in the wizard’s right hand is a reference to the ideal radar signature of a stealth aircraft: zero. On the right side of the patch, the falling globe references aluminum balls dropped from the sky to calibrate radar equipment. Lightning bolts, such as the one emanating from the wizard’s staff, often refer to electronic warfare. The aircraft in the lower right is probably a generic symbol representing flight testing. The sword at the bottom of the image refers to a recently declassified Boeing stealth demonstrator known as the “Bird of Prey”: the handle on the sword approximates the shape of this prototype.

Freedomus Ao Anat Cosamus

Here again we see the grouping of 5 + 1 stars with a smaller grouping of 3 stars which may represent Detatchment 3. 

FREEDOMUS AO ANAT COSAMUS


This patch is from an unknown program that took place at Groom Lake (Area 51) sometime during the late 1990s. The collection of six stars above the eagle’s head may represent Area 51 (5 + 1 stars), while the collection of three stars below the eagle might represent “Detachment 3” (Groom Lake is also known as “Air Force Flight Test Center, Detachment 3”). The phrase Freedomus Ao Anat Cosamus is a garbled concoction of dog-Latin and dog-Greek. Although the intended meaning of the phrase is entirely unclear, one might venture the guess “Freedom throughout the cosmos.”

NRO 2SLS LMA

On the last [this] patch you showed, I did some research and came up with this.

I have read that the 4 white stars may represent that the classified satellite launched into orbit was actually the fourth of its type. Four stars. Four satellites.


B-XXVIII = The only thing I could find was that this may refer to a US naval photographic plate showing a total eclipse of the sun. If you look at the patch, there is what appears to be a sun behind the eye on top of the pyramid.


NRO = This is definitely the letters for the National Reconnaissance Office 


2SLS = I believe this refers to the 2nd Space Launch Squadron. They oversee the conduct of safe, reliable and timely launch operations to support Department of Defense, national and commercial customers. That looks like a Titan IV heavy lift vehicle on the patch, and that is part of the responsibility of the 2SLS.


2SLS Patch


LMA = I believe this is referring to Lockheed Martin Aerospace (or Aeronautics) 


Supra Summus = Is Latin, and loosely translated means “Above Above” or “Most Superior and Highest”


The B-XXVIII on the patch is no mystery.  The launch vehicle was a Titan 4B, number 28 (usually denoted simply as B-28). I went to Vandenberg for that launch but it got scrubbed so the next day I watched it from Edwards AFB.

F-22 Low Observatory Flight Test Raptor 4004 Just Passing Through

This commemorative patch for a classified flight test of an F-22 Raptor aircraft at Groom Lake shares many symbols with the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron patch. The mascot here is a raptor wearing the clothes of a wizard (like those on the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron patch). The Greek letter sigma hangs from the figure’s neck. 

The collection of six stars, again, is a reference to Area 51. The phrase “IdB” may reference the intended or actual radar cross section measurement of the aircraft. The words JUST PASSING THROUGH reference the fact that, for this test, the airplane had only to fly through the RCS measurement range while engineers collected data from monitoring stations on the ground.

EWAH


This patch is worn by people working for a unit descended from the 413th Flight Test Squadron. Elements of the former 413th FLTS became a part of the EW Directorate known by its organization code EWAH. Located at North Base at Edwards, EWAH has its own commanding officer who reports directly to the EW Directorate.


The collection of 5+1 stars recalls the nickname Area 51, the Air Force’s classified “operating location” at Groom Lake.

Electronic Warfare Directorate 

Testum Pontus Veratis


The Electronic Warfare Directorate is the primary EW test organization at Edwards Air Force Base.


Electronic warfare consists of defensive and offensive avionics and includes the so-called “Infowar” revolution in military technologies. Commenting on information warfare, Air Force Chief of Staff John Jumper told Aviation Week and Space Technology that “we’re rapidly approaching the time when you can tell an SA-10’s [surface-to-air missile system] radar that it’s a Maytag washer and put it in the rinse cycle instead of the firing cycle.”


The crow clutching lightning bolts has been a standard symbol of electronic warfare for at least the past half century. There is no mystery there. Offensive and defensive avionics technicians are referred to as “crows.”

Grim Reapers


Grim Reapers was the nickname of the 4451st Test Squadron, which operated under the 4450th Tactical Group at the Tonopah Test Range during the 1980s. The unit’s mission was to fly a squadron of classified stealth fighters.

When the Pentagon announced the existence of the stealth fighter program in the late 1980s, the Grim Reapers were redesignated as the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron. After the Grim Reapers’ existence became public, the Air Force forced the unit to change their name, as it did not pass the Air Force’s requirements for good taste. The Grim Reapers thus became the Ghost Riders.

Behind The Green Door


The origins and purpose of this patch remain obscure. The green figure holding the sword (or dagger) wears the cloak-and dagger garb often associated with black projects. There is a star in the northern hemisphere under the letter “S” and another red star in the American Southwest. The red star might refer to an operating location, but the patch provides no real clue as to where it might be. The Southwest is home to numerous classified units. Air Force Space Command in Colorado; Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico; White Sands, New Mexico; Groom Lake, Nevada; and the Tonopah Test Range are all possibilities, and there are many more.


The words “A Lifetime of Silence” no doubt refer to the fact that members of this unit or project cannot speak about what they do. The image of a “Green Door” is also obscure. Military intelligence officers have a tradition of working behind locked green vault doors, but the symbol is widely used in popular culture to designate an inaccessible place.


In Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman’s 1917 novel The Green Door, a young girl named Letitia longs to open a mysterious little green door in her house, but her aunt forbids it with the words “It is not best for you, my dear.” The 1956 hit song “Green Door” is about a man who couldn’t get into a party raging behind a green door. 

Global Engagement Military Spaceplane Technology Program


This patch is from the Phillips Laboratory Military Spaceplane Technology (MIST) Program Office at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The original version of the patch sported an “X-Wing” fighter from the Star Wars movies. When lawyers representing George Lucas delivered the unit a cease and desist order, the aircraft on the patch was changed into the shape that appears on this patch.

Bird of Prey

The Bird of Prey was a highly classified technology demonstrator that first flew at Groom Lake in 1996. Built by a secretive division of McDonnell Douglas (later acquired by Boeing) known as the “Phantom Works,” the aircraft was flown by Boeing pilots Rudy Haug and Joe Felock. Doug Benjamin of the secret Special Projects Flight Test Squadron was the only Air Force pilot to fly the aircraft.

Although the shape of the plane was secret in 1996, the Bird of Prey patch contained an important clue. When Boeing declassified the Bird of Prey’s existence in 2002, it became obvious that the handle of the sword was essentially the same shape as the aircraft. This distinctive sword has since become incorporated into the symbolism of the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron.

Operations Group at Groom Lake

Familiar now is the 5 + 1 stars. Special equates to black, Red White and Blue streamers refer to the Janet planes. 

Operations Group at Groom Lake


This patch is from the Operations Group at Groom Lake. The collection of five white stars and one purple star is a reference to Groom Lake’s nickname, “Area 51,” and here represents the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron. The color purple echoes the colors of the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron patch. The wrench and screwdriver are symbols for aircraft maintenance units and activities. There is also a red star in the bird’s eye, which may reference classified squadrons such as the “Red Hats” and “Red Eagles,” which were charged with flying purloined Soviet MiGs at the secret base. Green footprints on the cloud symbolize the “Ghost Squadron” search and rescue team. Lightning coming from the cloud spells out the letters “EW” for “electronic warfare” and represents EW test units and activities at the base. The red-and-white and blue-and-white streamers on either side of the bi rd reference the colors of the Janet planes.


Penser hors limites is French for “Imagination without boundaries,” or “To think beyond the boundaries.”


Interesting thing is that the green footprints also are tied to the US Air Force PJs.

Unofficial 509th Bomb Wing Insignia.”

Guststus Similis Pullus is dog Latin for  “Tastes Like Chicken

 

 Mention the 1947 Roswell Incident, and one thing that always comes to mind is the 509th Bomb Wing that was stationed here in Roswell when the incident occurred. Their place in history was apparent in WWII, when they helped bring the war to an end by dropping the only atomic bombs ever used in wartime. Hopefully they will never be used again, but should that need arise, the 509th today stands ready to continue to defend our nation with the B-2 Stealth bomber, now located at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

As in 1945 when they dropped the bombs, here in Roswell in 1947 when the Roswell Incident occurred, and continuing today, the 509th is an elite group. 60 years of military history is a long time. I’ve often wondered if that longevity is due to their involvement and secrecy in ending the Second World War and/or the Roswell Incident as both were events that did, and could have dramatic effects on the history of mankind. Is the 509th perhaps getting paid back for keeping secrets all those years? Many of us are aware of the secrecy that was maintained with the development, testing and use of the atomic bombs in the early and mid 1940s.

Still classified Minotaur


Still classified Minotaur 


Minotaur is a still-classified program undertaken by Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs division, the Skunk Works. Although Minotaur remains obscure, rumor holds that the airframe shares a “family resemblance” with another Skunk Works program called Minion and may have served as a technology demonstrator for that program.


Does this pertain to The Minotaur missile program?


October 2009


A flaw with the new Minotaur 4 rocket has led to an indefinite delay for the debut blastoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base, military officials said.  

Alone and On The Prowl

Prowler, Desert Prowler Alone and On The Prowl

Notice the Latin Numerals IX – 9, XI – 11 


This is one of two patches known to be associated with a black Lockheed Martin Skunk Works project named “Prowler” or “Desert Prowler.” The project was active as of late 2005.


The Desert Prowler is not an immediate relative of the Polecat technology demonstrator tested in 2006. The latter incorporated advanced aerodynamic and structural features for a future long-range, very high-altitude UAV, while Desert Prowler is more conservative. 


A photograph of the Beast of Kandahar, the classified stealth UAV first reported in April, has emerged on a blog linked to left-wing French newspaper Liberation.   

The photo confirms that the previous artists’ impressions were largely accurate. The jet has long, slender outer wings, spanning as much as 80 feet, mated to a stouter, deeper centerbody with a pointed nose. One important detail:  the overwing fairings are not B-2-like inlets, but cover some kind of equipment – satcoms on one side, perhaps, and a sensor on the other.

NRO – Snakes 

Numquam Ante  numquam Iterum


NRO —SNAKES, NUMQUAM ANTE NUMQUAM ITERUM 


A National Reconnaissance Office program patch, whose referent remains entirely obscure. The Latin inscription translates as “Never Before, Never Again.”


NOTE: The Three Vipers – The Three Blue Stars – The Eight White Stars – And the tail of the vipers wraps around the Earth.

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    • TENCAP is an acronym for Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities, a collection of programs that involve developing tactical (battlefield) applications out of reconnaissance satellite capabilities (which are normally thought of as strategic).

      “Special” almost invariably means “black” or highly classified. The phrase Oderint Dum Metuant is usually associated with Caligula, the first-century Roman emperor whose name became synonymous with depravity, madness, and tyranny. It translates as “Let them hate so long as they fear.”

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