Markings On Scaled Composites’ ARES Confirm Its Connection To Mysterious Model 401 Jets

The War Zone recently published an exclusive story about Scaled Composites’ stealthy new Model 401 demonstrator aircraft. It featured new candid photographs of one of the stealthy planes and we were able to decode evidence that the two new aircraft seem to have a direct connection to the company’s ARES (Agile Responsive Effective Support) jet that first flew nearly three decades ago. We even figured out the nicknames of the pair of new aircraft. Now we have confirmation that they are indeed the ‘sons’ of ARES. 

While attending an experimental aircraft fly-in at Mojave Air and Space Port this weekend, Scott Lowe gave ARES—which was on display—a close inspection. One of the stencils on the flying experimental test platform included a comical “chemtrail tank” inscription. But located just below that was a “world’s greatest dad” sticker like those found on some suburbanite minivans, but instead of silhouettes of a father and son, it was ARES next to two Model 401s.

ARES at the Mojave Air and Space Port experimental aircraft fly-in., Scott Lowe

The two Model 401 jets are aptly named Deimos and Phobos, which in ancient Greek mythology are the sons of the war god Ares. In our special feature on the new aircraft’s connection to ARES we wrote:

The names Phobos and Deimos are extremely important too.’s description of their place in Greek mythology reads as such:  

DEIMOS and PHOBOS were the gods or personified spirits (daimones) of fear. Deimos represented terror and dread, while his brother Phobos was panic, flight and rout. They were sons of the war-god Ares who accompanied their father into battle, driving his chariot and spreading fear in his wake. As sons of Aphrodite, goddess of love, the twins also represented fear of loss.

This all makes more sense considering there are actually two Model 401s in existence. Their registrations: N401XD (Deimos) and N401XP (Phobos). The warlike and downright scary nature of their names also alludes to the probability that they are designed for intensive military applications.

You have to hand it to Scaled Composites for coming up with such a rich and well-tailored mythological metaphor for the Model 401 program—a program of which we still don’t know if there is an external benefactor or customer.

There has been other Model 401 news since our last post as well. The second prototype, N401XD, aka Deimos, has taken to the skies, and it’s not an unmanned variant as was rumored—that is at least not yet. Scaled Composites has built other optionally manned aircraft that be controlled via line-of-sight data-link or they can even have their modular cockpits replaced with satcom communications systems so that they can be controlled beyond line-of-sight remotely. But at this time, both Model 401 aircraft are being flown with human pilots in their cockpits.

We have speculated as to what the aircraft might be used for, but some correspondence we received following our most recent “son of ARES” article is worth mentioning. We pointed out that the aircraft’s wings feature somewhat of an extreme dihedral (the wings are angled upward). One source that contacted us noted that this is especially important for providing an optimal, unobstructed line of sight from horizon to horizon for payloads protruding from below the aircraft, such as electro-optical sensors or even laser turrets. This way the payload can maintain a lock on a target near or even above the horizon even when the aircraft is banking. This makes a lot of sense considering there are at least two large payload bays located on the aircraft’s belly, which we pointed out in our last piece. 

Matt Hartman

Even with all this information, we still don’t know who these aircraft are destined for or what exactly their mission will be once they are delivered. Rest assured that the moment we find out the answer to these questions we will report it here at The War Zone.

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Tyler Rogoway


Tyler’s passion is the study of military technology, strategy, and foreign policy and he has fostered a dominant voice on those topics in the defense media space. He was the creator of the hugely popular defense site Foxtrot Alpha before developing The War Zone.