Revealed: Pentagon's new superspy plane

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PostFri Dec 06, 2013 11:55 pm » by *WillEase*


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This is the RQ-180, the Pentagon's new super-spy plane, which has been secretly developed for years. Unlike Lockheed Martin's SR-72 Son of Blackbird, Aviation Week & Space Technology reports that this stealth beast is already flying across the restricted airspace over Area 51. This seems to be its home at the infamous not-so-secret base:

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Aviation Weekly's Senior Pentagon Editor Amy Butler and Senior International Defense Editor Bill Sweetman got the skinny, along with details about its location. The plane, now in the flight testing phase, will participate in real world missions as soon as 2015. Apparently, the RQ-180 has been in development many years without anybody knowing about it—perhaps as early as 2006.

Defense Tech notes that the hangars can hold "an aircraft with a wing span of more than 130 feet at Northrop's Palmdale, California, site and at the Air Force's Area 51 test center in Groom Lake, Nevada," which makes it "much bigger than Lockheed Martin Corp.'s RQ-170 Sentinel, which has an estimated wingspan of between 65 feet and 90 feet," the plane used in the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden.
http://sploid.gizmodo.com/revealed-us-n ... socialflow

:headscratch: (I could swear the official story involved helicopters and SEAL team members)
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PostSat Dec 07, 2013 12:05 am » by *WillEase*


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.


Continued here: http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com/pos ... _drone_yet
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