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Has the US Air Force built a stealth UAV?

Dec. 9, 2013 - 05:29PM   |  
By MICHAEL PECK   |   Comments
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The US Air Force and Northrop Grumman have built a new stealth UAV, according to Aviation Week. The classified aircraft, called the RQ-180, could be operational by 2015, AvWeek reported.

“The RQ-180 carries radio-frequency sensors such as active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and passive electronic surveillance measures,” an unnamed defense official told the magazine. It could also conduct electronic attack missions.

As evidence of the project, Aviation Week cited contract awards listed in Northrop’s financial reports, as well as publicly available imagery of new hangars at Northrop’s Palmdale, Calif., plant and the Air Force flight-test center at Groom Lake, Nev.

AvWeek describes the RQ-180 as being a cranked-kite design “with a highly swept centerbody and long, slender outer wings.” It is reportedly smaller and has less endurance than Northrop’s Global Hawk UAV, but larger than the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, a stealthy UAV that was captured by Iran two years ago.

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