RQ-180 high-altitude long-endurance [HALE]
The RQ-180 is a high-altitude long-endurance [HALE] reconnaissance drone reportedly developed by Northrop Grumman under a secret US Air Force program. Northrop Grumman is believed to have received a development contract for the RQ-180 in 2008, with deliveries of low-production aircraft starting in 2013. The existence of the UAV or program is not officially recognized by the Air Force. The RQ-180 meets Air Force requirements for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability penetrating a contested airspace, a mission that was conducted by the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft until its retirement in 1999.
In 2013, the US "Aviation Week" first reported this drone developed by Northrop Grumman. The RQ-180 is considered to be larger, more stealthy and has a longer range than the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel stealth flying drone. The project is reportedly similar to the manned B-21 Raider stealth bomber that Northrop Grumman is developing for the Air Force.
Jennifer Cassidy, an Air Force spokeswoman just said, “The Air Force does not discuss this program.” On the other hand, according to Northrop Grumman’s financial report, this year “an unnamed aircraft program entered low-rate initial production.”
A mysterious stealth aircraft was photographed flying over Edwards Air Force Base, California, in broad daylight on 01 October 2020. According to a report by Forbes on the 1st, in early October, a batwing drone that fits the description of RQ-180 appeared at the high altitude of Edwards Air Force Base in California during the day. The engine left a long white track in the sky. The image was posted by photographer Rob Kolinsky on Instagram on Saturday. "This thing flew over my house several weeks ago and I still haven't been able to identify it," Kolinsky wrote in the caption. The photographer subsequently removed the image and did not publish it again. The Aviation Week published a report saying that the aircraft has a manner consistent with what is commonly known as unmanned aircraft system (UAS) RQ-180.
One defense official has said that RQ-180 carries radio-frequency sensors such as active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and passive electronic surveillance measures and might be capable of electronic attack missions. The design also merges stealth with superior aerodynamic efficiency for increased altitude, range and time on station.
"Aviation Week" pointed out that RQ-180 has fully exerted its combat power, performing long-distance intelligence collection, reconnaissance, and launching electronic attacks for the U.S. Air Force, replacing the RQ-4 "Global Hawk" with no concealment capability. In view of the world The high-end opponents of RQ have made great progress in anti-entry/area denial capabilities. The RQ-180 has the characteristics of long-range, concealment, and high altitude, allowing it to survive and conduct reconnaissance in the most heavily defended airspace. The National Interest magazine published a report titled "Good luck, China: The U.S. Air Force RQ-180 Concealed UAV is flying to Asia" on September 1, revealing that some of the current RQ -180 has been deployed at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam and will play an important role in the military confrontation between the United States and China in the future.
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