Reapers was the nickname of the 4451st Test Squadron, which
operated under the 4450th Tactical Group at the Tonopah Test
Range during the 1980s. The unit's mission was to fly a
squadron of classified stealth fighters.
Pentagon announced the existence of the stealth fighter
program in the late 1980s, the Grim Reapers were
redesignated as the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron. After
the Grim Reapers' existence became public, the Air Force
forced the unit to change their name, as it did not pass the
Air Force's requirements for good taste. The Grim Reapers
thus became the Ghost Riders.
PROFANI —SPECIAL PROJECTS
is from the 416th Flight Test Squadron's Special Projects
Flight working on advanced technologies for the F-16
Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base.
Procul Este Profani is usually associated with Virgil's epic
poem The Aeneid. When Apollo arrives at the Temple of
Apollo, the prophet Sibyl utters the words "Procul, O procul
este profane" before the pair descend into Hades, where
Aeneas is told about the future of Rome.
the unit translate the phrase as "Keep your distance, you
who are uninitiated."
SPECIAL APPLICATIONS, OBERINT DUM METUANT
an acronym for Tactical Exploitation of National
Capabilities, a collection of programs that involve
developing tactical (battlefield) applications out of
reconnaissance satellite capabilities (which are normally
thought of as strategic).
almost invariably means "black" or highly classified.
"Oderint Dum Metuant" is associated with Caligula, the First
century Roman emperor whose name became synonymous with
depravity, madness, cruelty, and tyranny. It translates "Let
them hate so long as they fear."
CERTIOREM FACIAM, MIHI TU DELENDUS ERIS
was designed as a generic insignia for "black" projects
conducted by the Navy's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron
Four (VX-4) based at Point Mugu, California. It was
reportedly used during the navy's involvement with the TSSAM
program. It may still be worn by members of the VX-9
squadron formed from a merger of VX-4 and VX-5. VX-9's
mission is to test strike aircraft, conventional weapons,
electronic warfare equipment, and to develop tactics
involving these weapons systems. The Latin phrase "Si Ego
Certiorem Faciam ... Mihi Tu Delendus Eris" roughly
translates into a cliche commonly heard in the vicinity of
"black" programs: "I could tell you, but then I'd have to
phrasing here is unusual because it is written in the
passive voice: a more accurate translation of the Latin
would be "I could tell you, but then you would have to be
destroyed by me." By employing the passive voice the patch's
designer makes two references that don't exist in other
phrasings. The first reference is to the Greek God of Chaos,
Eris, about whom Homer wrote in Book Four of the Iliad:
whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion
of murderous Ares. She who is only a little thing at the
first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth
with her head striking heaven. She then hurled down
bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through
the onslaught making men's pain heavier."
phrasing of the Latin also echoes the words of a Second
century B.C. Roman senator named Cato the Elder, who roamed
the Senate repeating the words "Carthago delenda est"—"Carthage
must be destroyed." In 149 B.C., Cato got his wish and Rome
attacked the city, which was located in North Africa near
present-day Tunis. Three years after beginning their
assault, the Roman army overran Carthage, tore down its
walls, and sold its inhabitants into slavery. After the
Roman Senate declared that no one would ever live where
Carthage had stood, legend holds that Rome salted the earth
around the city in order to ensure that Carthage would
remain a wasteland for generations.