Re: RQ-180

Message posted by Peter Merlin on December 10, 2013 at 9:45:16 PST:

The base facilities can only "grow" to a certain point. When they reach the maximum allowable footprint in square feet (buildings), they will have to start tearing old structures down if they wish to build new ones. This is already happening at Edwards despite the fact that there is enough open land to build a large city.

As to the latest revelations, so far all I have seen is some fancy artwork. The reality of the "SR-72" seems particularly tenuous based on information from company and government sources. I do believe it is likely that Northrop Grumman has built and tested a large ISR UAV (I also considered an NGB demonstrator a strong possibility). This seems to be the best candidate for both the current occupant of the big southern hangar at Groom and the future resident of Edwards South Base. I am a little leery, however, of some of the weaknesses in the recent AvWeek "RQ-180" article. Specifically, I have three questions.

1. Did AvWeek find any government/industry sources to confirm that a new stealthy ISR platform is about to go into production, or is this just speculation based on analysis of "black budget" dollars, employment numbers, and new hangar construction at various locations?

2. Is the AvWeek artist's concept based on actual descriptions of this vehicle, assuming such a craft has been confirmed, or is it based on previous art from Sensorcraft or NGB briefings?

3. If it exists, is it actually called the RQ-180? This would be odd since the Sentinel UAV apparently received its RQ-170 designation because it started out as the P-170, using the typical Lockheed Martin project numbering convention (like the P-175 Polecat and P-791 Hybrid Air Vehicle). The P-170 became the RQ-170 the same way that the YF-117A became the F-117A instead of being designated the F-19. If the new UAV is being built by Northrop Grumman, as claimed by AvWeek, then shouldn't it have a designation like RQ-23 or something along those lines?

In Reply to: Re: RQ-180 posted by Joerg (Webmaster) on December 10, 2013 at 7:58:04 PST:


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