RQ-180: The Secret US Spy Plane Spotted Over Area 51

There are few doubts about the existence of RQ-180 and whether it is fully operational as of now.

Presumed sighting of RQ-180 over Area 51, October 30, 2021.
Presumed sighting of RQ-180 over Area 51, October 30, 2021.

While we still do not know with absolute certainty the details surrounding this aircraft, or even its official designation, the latest appearance follows a previous sighting over the Philippines in September, as reported by The War Zone, which after the latest photographic evidence suggests that such Perhaps the secret plane has moved towards a more operational, and possibly even less clandestine, status.

Supposedly called the RQ-180, it has all the makings of being a high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft with obvious stealth characteristics.

The main photograph of this news was published on October 31 last by Joerg Arnu, who was at the scene and described how the sighting unfolded:

“A friend who wishes to remain anonymous and I were outside the Groom Lake Road yesterday. I heard a slight aircraft noise and noticed a contrail directly above us, within the restricted airspace of Area 51, heading roughly south-southwest. Through my IS [image stabilized] binoculars, I first thought I was looking at a B-2 until I realized it had a pointed tail. The B-2 has a serrated tail. My friend took the attached photo (two overlapping enhanced versions). It is clearly a twin-engine aircraft. ‘

Radar Truck
A truck that emerged from Groom Lake with an apparent Soviet-made radar system onboard, while the RQ-180 was flying high.

Arnu added that the photo was taken with a Canon 20Mpix camera with a 1,600mm equivalent focal length, and he later estimated that the drone was flying at around 70,000 feet. Of course, that’s speculative, as we have little idea about the true dimensions of the ship. It is rumored to have a wingspan of around 120 feet, but that remains totally unverified.

As can be seen with the naked eye, the aircraft left two telltale trails behind it, indicating a very tight twin-engine arrangement. The shape is also a perfect match, with thin wings and a diamond-shaped central fuselage area, much like the original design of Northrop’s high-flying advanced technology bomber and the upcoming B-21 Raider.

Other Sightings Of The RQ-180

Whether by coincidence or not, it was in October of last year that we first saw what appears to be the RQ-180. On that occasion, the plane was spotted north of Edwards Air Force Base – a place Arnu believes the recently photographed aircraft was heading to.

More recently, in September this year, what appeared to be the so-called RQ-180 – or another aircraft with almost exactly the same shape – was sighted over the Philippines, suggesting that the plane is now in service. very limited operational, or in less advanced real-world testing, as development continues.

Photograph from September appears to show the RQ-180 over the Philippines. 
Credit: Michael Fugint.

In all three cases, the plane was flying during the day, which may seem strange for an asset that is still so secretive. On the other hand, we are talking about a plane that can fly for dozens of hours, so you really won’t have a choice regarding flying during the day or not, but mission planning can help alleviate some risks in that regard. . As such, daytime movements are likely critical to your planned persistent operations, and furthermore, the unusual light color scheme could even have been specifically applied to optimize the aircraft’s visual signature for high-altitude operations during the day.

Secret for now

Gathering the growing photographic evidence from multiple sources leaves little doubt that we are actually dealing with a classified high-flying craft, the existence of which has been discussed for a long time, but now there can be no longer any doubt that it is, in fact, a reality.

A conceptual rendering of the RQ-180. 
Credit: The War Zone.

The places where it has been photographed also make too much sense: near Edwards Air Force Base, over Area 51, and in what is very likely one of its main operating environments, right between the Philippine seas and South China. . We also have those very peculiar high altitude corridors that lead from the main Air Force test areas in Nevada and California and head out into the great Pacific.

Still, even with this mysterious plane popping up in the most logical place and the photos of it have been in circulation for over a year when exactly the Air Force will confirm its existence is a complete enigma. It could be tomorrow or in a few years. But considering how important this aircraft is likely to be to the service’s future air combat architecture, we’ll likely find out sooner rather than later.

Source: The War Zone

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