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Cold War-Era Drone Discovered on Cape Cod Beach Linked to Former Top-Secret Program, Park Says

Cold War-Era Drone Discovered on Cape Cod Beach
Source: Cape Cod National Seashore

The object 'appeared to have been in the ocean for some time,' officials said.

Apr. 17 2024, Published 9:03 a.m. ET

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A mysterious object that washed up on the beach at Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts recently has been identified as an early drone dating back to the Cold War era.

The object washed up on Marconi Beach in Wellfleet and "appeared to have been in the ocean for some time," National Park Service officials said. Seashore staff collected the object before it could be swept away in a coming storm.

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Park historian Bill Burke examined the object, and identified it as the fuselage of a Remote Control Aerial Target, or RCAT.

RCATs were early versions of drone aircraft used for target practice during anti-aircraft training offshore Marconi Beach in the 1940s and 1950s. Camp Wellfleet, a former U.S. military training camp, once sat atop the dunes.

"Aircraft equipped with an RCAT would take off from a now defunct runway located in the woods of Wellfleet," park officials said. "The RCAT would then be rocket-launched off the aircraft at 0 to 60 mph within the first 30 feet, and then controlled remotely from the bluff."

Camp Wellfleet opened in 1943, and for nearly 20 years, was used by both the Army and the Navy for training purposes. Following World War II, the camp was used for training guardsmen and reservists.

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In 1961, President John F. Kennedy turned the site over to the Department of the Interior to establish the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Since then, ordnance has been regularly discovered at the site, despite extensive investigations by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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Over the years, ordnance including anti-aircraft projectiles, small arms ammunition and bazooka rounds have been found at the site.

TMX contributed to the report.


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