There are many classified unmanned aircrafts that we don’t know about. One of them is RQ-180, a highly classified intelligence and reconnaissance stealth unmanned aircraft. However, lately this classified unmanned aircraft of US has been seen flying in air. What amazing of this secret unmanned aircraft is it demonstrates a major advance in combining stealth and aerodynamic efficiency.
Northrop Grumman has secretly developed this highly classified unmanned aerial system (UAS), RQ-180. This aircraft has been designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The aircraft uses a version of Northrop’s stealthy “cranked-kite” design, with a highly swept center body and long, slender outer wings. Northrop Grumman engineers have revealed that the cranked-kite is scalable and adaptable. That ,means, the RQ-180’s center body length and volume can be greater relative to the vehicle’s size. The RQ-180 may come with a medium-bypass-ratio engine, but will have more power to provide better altitude performance and electrical power for payload growth.
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.
Report says, the RQ-180 will conduct the penetrating ISR mission that has been left unaddressed, and under wide debate, since retirement of the Lockheed SR-71 in 1998. Besides, it’ll be jointly controlled by the Air Force and the CIA, with the program managed by the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office and flight operations sustained by the Air Force.
Interestingly, when the US Air Force as well Northrop Grumman were asked about this highly classified RQ-180 project, both denied to comment further. 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.”
RQ-180 is scheduled to enter production for the U.S. Air Force and could be operational by 2015. Still now it’s not clear whether it will conduct any strike missions or not. Operationally, the RQ-180’s range could be extended by in-flight refueling, though it is unclear whether the UAS takes advantage of this technology. For more details, hit the source link below.
Source: Aviation Week