Interesting video shows nighttime military operations near Area 51

  • Video filmed outside of Area 51 seems to show infrared flares released during possible nighttime special-operations training.
  • It’s impossible to tell what is actually going on just from the video, but whatever it was, it was big and it looked interesting.
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While many of the videos taken near “Area 51” tend to float the usual UFO conspiracy theories, some happen to catch interesting real-world air activity. Earlier this November was one of those occasions.

Well-known YouTube videographers Tim & Tracy of the UFO Seekers channel made an interesting clip shot from outside the restricted Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) north of Nellis Air Force Base.

The new video shows some common NTTR activity including the “camo dude” security personnel, the comings and goings of NTTR employee shuttles and, more interestingly, a lot of air activity over the region, especially at night.

F-16 fighter jets

Two F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets over the Nevada Test and Training Range, Nevada, October 8, 2020.

US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Dwane R. Young


The video showed what was most likely a significant nighttime special operations tactical training exercise or capabilities test at the Nevada Test & Training Range.

Most interestingly, the scene appears to be lit by a series of LUU-19 B/B infrared, air-dropped illumination flares for use with night vision devices.

According to Northrop Grumman, the LUU-19 B/B air-dropped flare “is used worldwide and provides covert illumination in the near-infrared (IR) spectrum with virtually no visual signature. The LUU-19 B/B illuminates a diameter of 6,000 meters for seven minutes.”

The flares are almost invisible to the naked eye at night, but viewed through night-vision goggles or infrared surveillance and targeting cameras, they create an incredible amount of infrared illumination.

Air Force luminous infrared flares

How luminous and infrared air-dropped night-vision flares work.

Northrup Grumman


On November 15, 2020, Tim & Tracy of UFO Seekers posted a 20-minute video that shows a series of bright lights at low altitude as viewed through their infrared night-vision video equipment. Visible in the video are a series of orbiting lights around the brighter descending lights.

While official acknowledgement and media releases about specific test and training activities inside the NTTR don’t surface often, the US Air Force published an article on October 24, 2020, saying, “Operations on the Nevada Test and Training Range are continuous — when one operation finishes, another is right behind it ready to begin.”

A reasonable estimation of the activity caught on video by Jim & Tracy could be that a nighttime special-operations training, rehearsal or air defense testing operation was taking place. Of course, it could be anything — especially at this installation. But the use of LUU-19 B/B infrared flares, if that’s what they are, as seen in the video may provide some clues about what was going on.

In their November 15 video, which Jim & Tracy did a nice job of analyzing in two subsequent videos on their YouTube channel, we see what appears to be a sky full of aircraft orbiting over a flat, desert area within the NTTR.

When Jim & Tracy compared the approximate area of the activity to a satellite map of the area, it revealed that the activity they caught on night-vision video likely happened over a wide expanse that could be a simulated forward area landing zone, or an air defense facility.

This remote training area may have been used in support of a special operations raid simulation, a nighttime forward area refueling point (FARP), an expedient landing zone in support of a special operation or some other activity related to air defense training. It could be any training involving infrared flares, but those are possible scenarios.

The couple also caught video of security vehicles and a large bus leaving the gated area distantly adjacent from where the action in their video took place. It’s impossible to tell what is actually going on exclusively from the video, but whatever it was, it was big and it looked interesting.

When TheAviationist.com visited the area where the video was filmed, people who live and work outside the remote area told us there is always notable air activity in there. They reported frequent jet and rotary wing aircraft noise, explosions and other sounds coming from the area “every week.”

Every time we’ve visited the outside of the test and training area, we’ve seen some type of interesting activity, from F-117s being transported on flatbed trucks in the middle of the night to F-35As flying in formation with MQ-9 Reaper drones. We’ve also seen numerous contract adversary “red air” aircraft flying into and out of the training area from Nellis AFB at low level.

The NTTR is a massive and truly remote facility. According to official sources from nearby Nellis AFB outside Las Vegas, Nevada, “The range occupies 2.9 million acres of land, 5,000 square miles of airspace which is restricted from civilian air traffic over-flight and another 7,000 square miles of Military Operating Area, or MOA, which is shared with civilian aircraft.”

Getting near the outskirts of the NTTR can be difficult and dangerous because of the lack of paved roads, no support facilities and extreme weather combined with desert terrain.

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