USAF Confirm News Skunk Works Stealth UAV
The Beast of Kandahar confirmed by USAF...
The U.S. Air Force has confirmed the existence of the “Beast of Kandahar” UAV spotted flying out of Afghanistan in late 2007. The confirmation comes after more pictures came to light on several military and aviation blogs.
The jet aircraft known as the RQ-170 Sentinel, developed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, is a tailless flying wing with sensor pods faired into the upper surface of each wing.
U.S Air Force Skunk Works Stealth Drone
The sentinel is designed to provide recon and surveillance for warfighters on the frontlines. In answer to the recent online photos that had shown the drone at a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’s hangar in Kandahar, Afghanistan, an Air Force official said:
“[The service is] developing a stealthy unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward deployed combat forces.”
A USAF statement read:
“The fielding of the RQ-170 aligns with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’ request for increased intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to the Combatant Commanders and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz’s vision for an increased USAF reliance on unmanned aircraft,”
The RQ-170 is flown by the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron at Tonopah Test Range, Nev. – home of the F-117 stealth fighter when the program’s existence was secret and a location better known as Area 51 – and falls under Air Combat Command’s 432d Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.
The wingspan appears to be about 65-ft., about the same as an MQ-9 Reaper. With only a few images to judge from – all taken from the left side – the impression is of a rather deep, fat centerbody blended into the outer wings.
With its low-observable design, the aircraft could be useful for flying the borders of Iran and peering into China, India and Pakistan for useful data about missile tests and telemetry, as well as gathering signals and multi-spectral intelligence.
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