Is it true that Google has bought a military alpha jet?
Google's Alpha Jet
Residents of Santa Clara, California are used to seeing aircraft of all shapes and sizes arriving at Moffett Airfield, but the arrival of an alpha jet has created a lot of interest and questions.
Is it true that Google have bought a military alpha jet and what are they planning to do with it? While it is indeed true that Google executives have purchased a Dornier Alpha Jet and regularly use the airfield, there is more to the story.
It is easy to say that Google bought themselves a fighter plane, but it is a little more complicated than that
Let's make it clear here that this Alpha Jet was bought not by Google the company, but by a secondary company called H211 LCC that is controlled by its founders – Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
These billionaire executives have a number of planes at their disposal and this fighter jet is the latest acquisition.
This is not Google using aircraft to enhance their programs or status, nor it is Google bosses deciding they need a little firepower nearby in case brand warfare gets ugly.
H211 LLC have been working on converting the jet to civilian specifications – which partially means that it will be a lot quieter – and have scientific aims on their mind.
It all comes down to the fact that the H211 LLC airfield is actually NASA's airfield
Page and Brin have access to their fleet of planes and jets on Moffett Airfield, not far from Google's campus, which is an area of land that is actually rented for $1.3 million a year from NASA.
It is quite the arrangement that NASA has set up for itself: not only it is getting this extra form of funding from one of America's most lucrative companies, it is receiving access to the planes for scientific purposes.
It seems that this is the true reason for this odd purchase of an old European military jet. It has nothing to do with the aerodynamics and potential for weaponry, but rather the chance to test out scientific equipment.
This alpha jet was the best possible candidate because it allows for equipment that cannot be carried by the current fleet and is essentially filling a gap.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for NASA spoke of the amendments that were being made to the plane in order to support science missions, adding that this included the “observation of the re-entry of the European Space Agency’s Jules Verne’ Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)”.
In the end, it seems that this Google fighter jet isn't at all what it seemed
This agreement and ongoing collaboration between these Google executives and NASA show that there is more to this lavish purchase than meets the eye.
This is not an extra plane that these billionaires added to their collection for the fun, but rather a way to aid scientific discoveries by adding it to NASA's fleet.
It also poses the question of what other aircraft local residents may be seen flying into Moffett Airfield if this partnership remains profitable and beneficial for both parties.