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| The woo is out there|
|Aliens did it...|
|... and ran away|
“”[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force [...] where we train American armed forces.
|—US Air Force|
Area 51 is the Vietnam War-era codename for a remote detachment of the Edwards Air Force base built on the drybed of Groom Lake, Nevada. Whether the military continues to use the codename "Area 51" is unclear, and the airfield's official name is Homey Airport, according to the CIA. Area 51 is primarily used by the US government for the development and flight-testing of top secret aerospace projects such as the Have Blue "black project", which led to the F-117 stealth attack jet, as well as U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance planes. Declassified documents have shown that Area 51 also played host to testing of captured aircraft, such as the MiG-17 and MiG-21 under the code names HAVE DRILL and HAVE DOUGHNUT, respectively. While it can be easily found with Google Maps, the CIA didn't officially acknowledge the base's existence until 2013. Area 51 is home to the world's largest purpose-built runway, a lot of nondescript hangars and buildings, a baseball field, and... aliens?
It has long been rumored that Area 51 has been the proving ground for a great many experiments in exotic propulsion designs, as well as things such as stealth technology and the like (the facility being centered on a 7-mile runway is a bit of a clue). This, and the extreme secrecy surrounding the site, has led to it becoming the nexus for a great many UFO conspiracy theories. Most notable of those claims is that the site serves as a research lab to reverse-engineer examples of alien technology (a critical part of the plot of the film Independence Day and The X-Files TV series), and, as a result, has a subculture of people who often watch the goings-on there with binoculars from a black mailbox along a nearby state highway. The base itself lies at least 3 miles from the closest publicly accessible point, so even attempts to view the base using drones have been unsuccessful. Drones have subsequently been banned from the area, and the base's perimeter is heavily patrolled by helicopters.
With the end of the Cold War, many major military aerospace projects of the 1990s and 2000s (such as the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighter jets) were developed as "grey" rather than black projects.[note 1] Therefore, the high levels of secrecy afforded by Area 51 were less necessary, and activity around the base quieted. The rise of China (and to a lesser extent Russia's increased military spending) during the late 2000s brought with it increased activity at Groom lake. One of the small slivers of unambiguous information to leak in recent years was the construction of a very large hangar. This happens to coincide with the forthcoming testing of the B-21 stealth bomber prototype; the culmination of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber replacement project, also known as the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) procurement program. Small and large-scale development prototypes of the LRSB have been flying from the base since at least 2003. It is also believed that the RQ-180 stealth drone and more famously, the heavily modified, "stealthed" Black Hawk helicopters used during the killing of Osama Bin Laden were developed and based at Area 51 (as depicted in the film Zero Dark Thirty). There is zero evidence that alien technology was involved with these programs in any way[note 2], only good ol' fashioned scientific and engineering know-how.
To the True Believers™, the location of Area 51 was chosen to monitor the alien bases which are said to exist in the four corners area of the Southwestern United States. Area 51 is said to be the headquarters of MJ-12, the group said to be controlling all information on the alien presence. It is said to have a facility in Maryland called "COUNTRY CLUB" to be closer to policymakers in Washington, DC. The Maryland campus is staffed by the Majority Agency for Joint Intelligence, or MAJI. MAJIC is said to be the security classification for all MAJI-connected files, POUNCE is said to be the project to recover all downed alien craft, REDLIGHT is said to be the project to test-fly POUNCE-recovered alien craft, SNOWBIRD is said to be the cover for REDLIGHT using conventional technology, and DELTA is said to be the MAJI arm tasked with security for all these projects. Area 51 is, of course, popular with nuts because it is, after all, one of the few places in the United States which is still restricted from Public Access. How could a lunatic resist?
- Revealed: How Area 51 Hid Secret Craft, National Geographic, 20 May 2011
- Exclusive Area 51 Pictures: Secret Plane Crash Revealed, National Geographic, 20 May 2011
- Video of the Alien Autopsy LOL
- Area 51 Declassified — on the DOD's official science blog, Armed With Science
- Area 51, U-2 and the Accidental Test Flight. CIA; Aug 06, 2015
- Angels in Paradise: The Development of the U-2 at Area 51 ; CIA's YouTube channel.
- i.e. the public was aware of the early development and competition between varying prototypes, unlike the first stealth bomber, the F-117, which had been in development for over a decade before it came to the public's attention.
- Well, people like Bob Lazar and Sean David Morton say there is, but they're outright lying about it.
- The CIA wakes up and tells us what everybody knows already.
- Pedlow, Gregory W.; Welzenbach, Donald E. (1992). The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954–1974. Washington DC: History Staff, Central Intelligence Agency. http://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB434/.