Military Admits To Having
A 'Flying Saucer'
From Eric Howarth
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The truth may be out there for UFO conspiracy buffs, but here military officials admit flying saucers have taken over the skies.
The U.S. Army has been test-flying the CYPHER Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - a doughnut-shaped aircraft - for the past six years at the military post just outside of Columbus.
CYPHER uses two sets of rotating blades that are mounted in the aircraft's center to propel the machine. Hence, giving the aircraft its whirring sound and UFO look.
The aircraft's design allows it to hover over an area for as long as the fuel lasts. That capability distinguishes it from other unmanned aircraft currently being tested, said Mike Barnes, project director at the military post.
CYPHER, which earned its name because of its ability to decode underground structures and secret tunnels, was created by Sikorsky Aircraft Inc. in Los Angeles.
``The uses are absolutely endless,'' said test pilot Pvt. Brent Satterfield of Fort McClellan, Ala. ``If we had a hostage situation, we could use an infrared camera (in the CYPHER) to find out where everyone is in the house, where the exits are, and then we can plan out a better plan of attack.''
The aircraft could also be used to drop off supplies to soldiers or disburse unruly crowds without subjecting pilots to danger, Barnes said.
``We take these technologies and put them in the hands of soldiers and see if they can help them perform their mission,'' he said. But Barnes and military officials admit, it's the CYPHER's covert capabilities that make it even more appealing.
Inside the CYPHER, a video camera and a navigation computer - similar to those used in cruise missiles - would allow the military to survey enemy territory and areas attacked by poison gas or other hazardous bombs.
Sikorsky, which also manufactured the UH-1 Huey and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, also made room for a pilot onboard the CYPHER.
During a test flight Tuesday, Spc. Jacob Terrell, 21, flew the CYPHER over a crowd of cardboard dummies and hovered 150 feet above the ground before releasing canisters of smoke -simulating tear gas.
``It was just like a computer game. It's extremely easy to fly,'' Terrell said. If Army officials in Washington approve of the aircraft, CYPHER engineers say they can build the aircraft in a variety of sizes - from a 40-pound model that can be carried in a backpack to the size of a cargo helicopter. A price tag has not yet been set and officials would not comment on the price of the prototype.
While military officials and Columbus police say they have yet to receive reports of UFO sightings when the CYPHER is tested,engineers and military officials laugh at theories fueled by the Internet and television shows, such as Fox's ``X-Files,'' that such technology is alien in origin.
Ross Dowe
National UFO
Hotline NZ 0900 58 367

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