Late in 2018, a series of anomalies appeared on weather radar systems over the US states of Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Florida, and Indiana. The anomalies were eventually blamed on a new experimental type of chaff, an aircraft countermeasure designed to mask aircraft activity over a given area and generally confuse enemy radar systems.
While that explanation may have been sufficient for that week’s news cycle, many aviation experts noted that chaff usually doesn’t linger in place as these mysterious clouds seemed to. Were these anomalies indeed the product of chaff testing, or was military activity merely a convenient scapegoat as has been alleged in many other anomalies aerial phenomena?
The mystery deepened this week as similar radar anomalies were reported in Australia and again blamed on chaff. Many Sydney residents were startled when they saw weather radar displaying what appeared to be ominous rain clouds heading their way when a glance outside revealed crystal blue skies. Australian Broadcasting Corporation meteorologist Graham Creed quickly explained the radar anomaly on social media, stating that like in the American radar anomalies, this was the product of chaff:
It’s the Williamtown RAAF base and they’re putting what’s known as chaff in the atmosphere. The idea of it is that it hides what they’re doing underneath it. They’re doing manoeuvres with their aircraft. They drop this chaff and it spreads out and then it creates an echo so you can’t see individual movements.
The Williamtown RAAF base and Australian Department of Defence were contacted by the ABC but did not comment on the anomaly. What was the RAAF hiding, and from whom?
Like in the case of last year’s radar anomalies in America, I’m left to wonder why experimental aircraft technology would be tested near densely populated areas where weather radar systems are so common. If you wanted to hide experimental aircraft tests, why not do it somewhere more secretive? Or was that the point: to determine how well civilian radar systems can be fooled? To what end?