A large, classified unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman
is now flying-and it demonstrates a major advance in combining stealth
and aerodynamic efficiency. Defense and intelligence officials say the
secret unmanned aerial system (UAS), designed for intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, is scheduled to enter
production for the U.S. Air Force and could be operational by 2015.
through the Air Force’s classified budget, the program to build this
new UAS, dubbed the RQ-180, was awarded to Northrop Grumman after a
competition that included Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The aircraft will
conduct the penetrating ISR mission that has been left unaddressed, and
under wide debate, since retirement of the Lockheed SR-71 in 1998.
…Responding to a question from Aviation Week at a Stimson Center event in
Washington, [Lt. Gen Larry] James said, “We have a whole host of programs covering all
the different environments, and we ensure that as we develop new
capabilities we are in conversations with people at the right levels. We
are much better today than we were 10-15 years ago, [when] you’d have
this new super-secret thing and you’d turn up at the combatant
commander’s door at the start of an operation. That’s not a good place
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