What Is Area 51

Topics: Area 51, Nevada Test Site, Edwards Air Force Base Pages: 11 (4229 words) Published: December 13, 2012
Introduction Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. It is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles (133 km) north-northwest of Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large military airfield. The base's primary purpose is undetermined; however, based on historical evidence, it appears to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.[1][2]

Overview The Area 51 base lies within the United States Air Force's vast Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), formerly called the Nellis Air Force Range (NAFR). Although the facilities at the range are managed by the 99th Air Base Wingat Nellis Air Force Base, the Groom facility appears to be run as an adjunct of the Air Materiel Command Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, around 186 miles (300 km) southwest of Groom, and as such the base is known as Air Force Flight Test Center (Detachment 3).[3][4] Though the name Area 51 is used in official Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documentation,[5] other names used for the facility include Dreamland, Paradise Ranch,[6][7] Home Base, Watertown Strip, Groom Lake,[8] and most recentlyHomey Airport.[9] The area is part of the Nellis Military Operations Area, and the restricted airspace around the field is referred to as (R-4808N),[10] known by the military pilots in the area as "The Box" or "the Container".[11] The facility is not a conventional airbase, as frontline operational units are not normally deployed there. It instead appears to be used for highly classified military/defense Special Access Programs (SAP), which are unacknowledged publicly by the government, military personnel, and defense contractors. Its mission may be to support the development, testing, and training phases for new aircraft weapons systems or research projects. Once these projects have been approved by the United States Air Force or other agencies such as the CIA, and are ready to be announced to the public, operations of the aircraft are then moved to a normal air force base. The intense secrecy surrounding the base, whose very existence the U.S. government did not even acknowledge until 29 September 1995, has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore.[7][12] Everything that happens at Area 51 is classified Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). This security policy ensures that only those insiders with a "need to know" have access to only the information they require, and ensures that outsiders don't know what they don't know.[13]

U.S. Government’s positions on Area 51. The amount of information the United States government has been willing to provide regarding Area 51 has generally been very minimal. The government explicitly concedes (in various court filings, government directives and replies to inquiries) that the USAF has an "operating location" near Groom Lake, but does not provide any further information. Information on and photos of various past projects have been declassified however and are now available to the public.[14] The base does not appear on public U.S. government maps;[15] the USGS topographic map for the area only shows the long-disused Groom Mine.[16] A civil aviation chart published by the Nevada Department of Transportation shows a large restricted area,[17] but defines it as part of the Nellis restricted airspace. The official aeronautical navigation charts for the area show Groom Lake but omit the airport facilities.[18] Similarly the National Atlas page showing federal lands in Nevada[19] does not distinguish between the Groom block and other parts of the Nellis...
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