Recent photos of a high-flying V-shaped jet shows that some pretty interesting new aircraft are just around the corner.
Aviation Week & Space Technology
The Air Force has long debated how to conduct penetrating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions since the venerable, high-speed SR-71 retired in 1998. But despite the need and a lingering requirement, no visible progress toward that goal was made. That’s because the highly classified aircraft – the RQ-180 – has been developed by Northrop Grumman in secret.
In the Dec. 9 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Senior Pentagon Editor Amy Butler and Senior International Defense Editor Bill Sweetman reveal the existence of the black-world aircraft now flying at Area 51.
Aviation Week worked with artist Ronnie Olsthoorn to construct concept images of the RQ-180 based on its attributes, including its “cranked kite” design.
In 2009-10, as the RQ-180 neared flight-testing, shelters were built over ramps and engine test pits in Palmdale, Calif., where classified aircraft are developed.
Completed between 2006 and 2009 and shielded from view behind an earthen berm, this hangar at Area 51 is most likely the home of the new aircraft.
As far as I know, this sort of thing has happened only once since 1956.