Skip to comments.Unmasked: Area 51's Biggest, Stealthiest Spy Drone Yet
Posted on 12/06/2013 2:27:20 PM PST by mandaladon
The drone that spied on bin Laden and on Iran's nukes was just the start. Meet its bigger, higher-flying, stealthier cousin, the Northrop Grumman RQ-180. It's probably been flying for a few years now, but you weren't supposed to know that; the existence of this secret project, based out of Area 51, was revealed Friday by Aviation Week.
The existence of the RQ-180 has been long rumored. Cryptic public statements by U.S. Air Force officials indicated a secret high-altitude reconnaissance drone, and Northrop officials frequently reference the broad strokes of the program. For that matter, it is likely not the only classified unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. Other companies, including Lockheed and Boeing, also have a stable of smaller secretaircraft.
The RQ-180 is likely flying from the secret Air Force test facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, widely known as Area 51. Its exact specifications, including such crucial details as the number of engines, is unknown, but Aviation Week suggests a wingspan of over 130 feet, based on hangar construction at Northrop's Palmdale, California facility. The number of aircraft built is also unknown; however, a flight test program, relatively quick entry into service and open budget documents suggest a small fleet are flying routinely. One such aircraft is Lockheed's RQ-170, first shown to the world in grainy pictures from Kandahar air base, Afghanistan, but only officially acknowledged after one crashed almost-intact in Iran. The RQ-170 was (and maybe still is) tasked by the CIA to spy on Iran's contentious nuclear program. The drone was reportedly used to spy on Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan before and during the raid that killed him. RQ-170 has also been reported in South Korea, possibly to look at North Korea's nuclear program. RQ-170 was impressive, but limited:
(Excerpt) Read more at killerapps.foreignpolicy.com ...
This means that it’s obsolete.
Whatever replaced it is top secret.................
Where? I can't see it.
Hey, that looks like something that flew over recently while at deer camp. Or maybe it was spending too much time looking for deer that I started to see things and the effects of Leinenkugel’s started the hallucinations,and other delusions of reality. Did not even see a doe or a buck! Asked by someone what did you get at deer camp - chapped lips and wind burn.
Twenty years out of date.
Aviation list ping.
Predator “B” Still can Rock You’re World!
Please ping me to aviation and aerospace articles. Thank you.
If they are showing you a picture of it, it’s NOT
the latest thing.
You just can’t trust the ILLEGAL ALIEN IN CHIEF to keep a secret.
You heard it here first. Before he did. He may never hear about it.
Next is the SR-72. The new Stealth is speed.
He doesn’t even hear what comes out of his own mouth.
I I I I I I I
Me e e e e e e
There is your triangular ufo that many folks have been seeing for years...I wonder if that is the one that buzzed the Belgians.
Any idea how slow this thing can go?
I saw a triangle aircraft going very slow tonight at or less than 2k feet. It was not a helicopter and had some triangular shaped structure all the way around. It was blinking red and white aviation lights(i.e. it wasn’t a UFO) but it was creeping along in the very low cloud deck here in north NJ.
When I say creeping, I mean it was not keeping pace with my car and I was going 50ish in roughly the same direction. It was very strange.
It could have been a drone or other radio controlled aircraft. Unless you know the size of the object, you cannot guess its distance or speed.
’ that looks like something that flew over recently while at deer camp.’
Was that the second week of deer camp?
In a heavy downpour, several miles from the nearest home, in the dark, over a heavily wooded area...I doubt it was a radio controlled drone. The lights on it lit up the sky and the clouds around it.
I've seen big quad/hex copters at night and it looked nothing like this. This craft was big, with aircraft landing lights on it, not some blinking LEDs.
Sounds like a UAV (drone)...maybe some Amazon customer getting a delivery..../;)
yeah, it was the second week of deer camp. no luck with finding that elusive thirty point buck either.
Yep, looks like they took an X-47 design and modified it with long wings (like the U-2) for extremely high altitude flight.