Author Topic: USAF Confirms Existence of Big And Stealthy UAV  (Read 274 times)

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Offline rangerrebew

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USAF Confirms Existence of Big And Stealthy UAV
« on: July 11, 2014, 04:12:24 PM »

USAF Confirms Existence of Big And Stealthy UAV
by James Dunnigan
July 10, 2014

The U.S. Air Force recently announced that the long rumored RQ-180 UAV did indeed exist and was still in development. The RQ-180 is a large (over 12 tons) and stealthy UAV designed to survive in heavily defended air space.  The earlier RQ-170, which first saw service over Afghanistan and South Korea in 2010 is a similar, but smaller and earlier design. The U.S. Air Force had already admitted that the RQ-170 was a high altitude reconnaissance UAV developed in secret by Lockheed-Martin during the previous decade. It has a 12 meter (40 foot) wingspan. The RQ-170 is believed to be a replacement for some of the U-2s and a supplemental aircraft for the larger Global Hawk (which has a 42 meter wingspan). RQ-170s were also suspected as being the basis for a larger and stealthier UAV and this is now revealed to be the RQ-180.

Both the RQ-170 and RQ-180 are jet propelled UAVs employing a flying wing design, similar to the X-45s and X-47s built as development aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. These UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) were built to carry weapons while the similar looking reconnaissance UAVs just carry sensors internally. The RQ-170 and RQ-180 are purely reconnaissance aircraft. The RQ-170 weighs about six tons while the larger RQ-180 weighs at least twice as much. Endurance of the RQ-170 is about six hours while the RQ-180 can stay up three to four times longer. The RQ-180 also carries more capable sensors, apparently some of the ones used in the 14 ton RQ-4 Global Hawk. There are about twenty RQ-170s in service while only about half a dozen RQ-180s have been built so far.

http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/USAF-Confirms-Existence-of-Big-And-Stealthy-UAV-7-10-2014.asp
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 04:13:08 PM by rangerrebew »
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: USAF Confirms Existence of Big And Stealthy UAV
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2014, 04:59:53 PM »
Given the ever more sophisticated state of the art drone technology, it makes perfect sense to develop something like this as a replacement for a manned U-2.  Loiter time over the target is incredible and with extreme stealth technology these aircraft are invaluable.

And they are only recon, for now.  It also makes perfect sense to build a model that is armed to the teeth....

 :beer:

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Re: USAF Confirms Existence of Big And Stealthy UAV
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2014, 05:21:18 PM »
Then you got the trade off though: heavier loadout = less loiter time and lower speed.

I'd go more for pairing them up with the newer generation of cruise missiles. The drone to hang around and spot the baddies. Launch a cruise, and the drone paints the target for it, reducing colats. The designator wouldn't add much weight.
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: USAF Confirms Existence of Big And Stealthy UAV
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2014, 05:34:58 PM »
Then you got the trade off though: heavier loadout = less loiter time and lower speed.

I'd go more for pairing them up with the newer generation of cruise missiles. The drone to hang around and spot the baddies. Launch a cruise, and the drone paints the target for it, reducing colats. The designator wouldn't add much weight.

True, but the wing is so efficient it still has an amazing range.  Besides, if you're going to be sending in an armed drone like this, you will likely have a target in mind, so loiter time would not be as big a requirement as is for the recon model.

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Re: USAF Confirms Existence of Big And Stealthy UAV
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2014, 06:05:36 PM »
I guess an armed variant would work. Still like the idea of an eye in the sky and a separate attack system though. By the time you've added the hard points, beefed up the engines to deal with launch and the extra weight, added redundant weapons circuits with or without separate guidance circuits, upped the battery power to deal with all the extra circuits - it's putting on weight fast and there are way more systems to fail. And you know the God of Engineering is Murphy.

Trying to design things to do too much at once leads to all sorts of complications, and the end result is never as effective as a single purpose design. It's convenient, sure. A Leatherman multitool is convenient - but it's no where near as effective as a double ended screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a knife.
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