Military Review

Media: Started the pre-production of the secret American UAV RQ-180

Media: Started the pre-production of the secret American UAV RQ-180

The Northtop Grumman company has reached the stage of pre-production of the inconspicuous large reconnaissance UAV RQ-180, developed by one of the “black” programs of the US Defense Ministry, media reported.

Northtop Grumman won a secret US Department of Defense contract for the RQ-180 in a tender that also involved Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The program is presumably a joint program for the US Air Force and the CIA and is operated by the Rapid Capabilities Office of the US Air Force, writes the bmpd blog with reference to Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Analysis of the financial statements of Northtop Grumman suggests that the contract for RQ-180 was obtained in 2008, when an unexplained increase in the portfolio of orders for 2 billion was indicated in the division of Integrated Systems Corporation. In the financial statements of Northrop Grumman for 2013, it was reported that the unnamed program of some aircraft entered the pre-production stage (LRIP).

Available satellite images show new shelters and hangars for aircraft with a wingspan of approximately 130 feet, built at Northrop's plant in Palmdale (California) and at the notorious Area 51 object, a closed-air test center at the US Air Force near Groom Lake (Nevada). Northtop Grumman earlier, at the end of 2010 of the year, announced a significant expansion of its production capacity in Palmdale.

The main purpose of the RQ-180 is to conduct integrated aerial reconnaissance using complex equipment, including active (with AFAR) and passive reconnaissance systems. It is reported that the UAV can also be used to maintain the EW.

In American terminology, this UAV is characterized as a system of “penetrating” (penetrating) or “permissive” (permissive - in the sense of being able to penetrate into the “forbidden” airspace) reconnaissance (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance - ISR). RQ-180 is the heir to the participation of Northrop Grumman in the well-known program of the low-profile drone Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS).
As is known, this joint program of the Air Force and the US Navy at the end of 2005 fell victim to disagreements between the types of armed forces: the fleet wanted to get a suitable deckless drone as soon as possible, and the Air Force demanded a larger “global strike” reconnaissance aircraft.

The naval budget document for fiscal year 2007 showed that J-UCAS was split in December 2005 to create a demonstrator for fleet (which led to the creation of the Northrop Grumman X-47B UAV) and the "secret Air Force programs."

At the same time, Northrop Grumman openly discussed a number of configurations of the X-47C project with a larger wing, the largest of which was a wing span of 172 feet, with two engines based on General Electric CF34, capable of carrying 10 thousand pounds of combat load.

RQ-180 is smaller than this project, and it is not clear whether it will solve shock problems. It is similar in size and range to Global Hawk, which weighs 32 thousand 250 pounds and can patrol for 24 hours at a distance 1 thousand 200 nautical miles from its base. For comparison, the much smaller RQ-170 has a flight time of only five to six hours. A key feature of the RQ-180 project is a reduction in radar visibility from all angles and in a wide-range spectrum, compared with the Lockheed Martin F-117, F-22 and F-35 aircraft.

The design is optimized to provide protection against low and high frequency emitters of the enemy from all sides. The project also provides a combination of Stealth technology with excellent aerodynamic efficiency to increase altitude, range and flight duration.

The aircraft uses the Northrop stealth aerodynamic layout, called cranked-kite and also used on the X-47B, with a high “smooth” center plane and long, thin “outer” wings. Engineers at Northrop Grumman have publicly stated (even before the launch of the secret program) that the cranked-kite layout is scalable and flexible, unlike the layout of the B-2 bomber, which has a continuous leading edge of the wing.

Computational fluid dynamics allowed new stealth jets to be achieved in terms of low-visibility of the efficiency of the “flying wing” scheme, industry representatives said.

Controlling a complex three-dimensional airflow system is key to achieving laminar flow around most of the wing and designing stealth-compatible air intake systems and nozzles that are lighter and more efficient than those used on the B-2.

Maintaining a high degree of laminar flow on the swept wing is a significant achievement of aerodynamics.

Laminar flow control and stealth growth have necessitated the extensive use of new composite technologies, which seem to be based on the development of Scaled Composites, acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2007 year. Presumably, the RQ-180 uses two modified General Electric CF34 engines, which were proposed for various versions of the X-47 project. It is not excluded the use of refueling in the air.

Despite the serious budget situation for the US Department of Defense, the RQ-180 program takes precedence and moves without major financial cuts.

In September 2013, without calling directly RQ-180, the commander of the Battle aviation General Michael Hostage, Air Combat Command, said: “In ten years we have created the most incredible ISR capabilities and capabilities that anyone has ever seen ... We are now forced to build our capabilities (based on Reaper). I know that we cannot build our national strategy on them. ”

In late April, Iranian experts were able to decode the data from the US unmanned aerial vehicle RQ-170. According to some data, the drone was shot down on the territory of Iran in December last year as a result of a cyber attack by Iranian intelligence services. According to others, Iranian radio-electronic warfare "planted" RQ-170, using the Avtobaz complex, supplied to Iran by Russia.

US President Barack Obama asked the Iranian authorities to return the RQ-170, but Iran refused the request.
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  1. Volkhov
    Volkhov 9 December 2013 07: 29
    Why are there no photos and drivers for the PC?
    1. tronin.maxim
      tronin.maxim 9 December 2013 07: 31
      Quote: Volkhov
      Why are there no photos and drivers for the PC?

      He is secret! lol
    2. And Us Rat
      And Us Rat 9 December 2013 12: 13
      Quote: Volkhov
      Why are there no photos and drivers for the PC?

      Something like this:

      1. alone
        alone 9 December 2013 19: 26
        All the same, the Americans are still too strong and it is too early to write them off. And look at what a sensible approach. Each of the corporations is busy, the Americans do not load one company with all orders, but simply distribute them evenly. So that everything works. This is both income and jobs. and very good competitiveness.
    3. Gluxar_
      Gluxar_ 9 December 2013 21: 41
      Quote: Volkhov
      Why are there no photos and drivers for the PC?

      Because this is another vyser, not a full article.
      Immediately put a minus, without even reading to the end. Does the site administration monitor publications or not? This is already 3 or 4 reposts of American UAV advertising.
      There is no information, only propaganda which the USA is advanced. I am sure that the author of all these orders is the same. Drive such provocateurs.

      And about the UAV, then what is the US ahead of? The fact that they have several shock specimens does not say anything. We need to distinguish proctam weapons from real effectiveness. The fact that with the help of such pieces they destroy the civilian population of wild auls does not make these weapons advanced. The United States is ahead not in technology, but in the number of complexes purchased. It is known what such expenses led to; today they cannot make ends meet. And about the effectiveness of the use of such shock means there is no reliable statistics. So do not make a swamp and advertise the United States, it still will not help them.
  2. makarov
    makarov 9 December 2013 07: 42
    ".. According to some sources, the drone was shot down in Iran in December last year as a result of a cyberattack by Iranian special services. According to others, Iranian electronic warfare systems" planted "RQ-170, using the Avtobaza complex supplied to Iran by Russia. .. "

    The Americans, however, argue that the cause of the incident was a technical error (but do not indicate whose). Of course I would like to know the truth ... but who loves her truth ???
    1. Basileus
      Basileus 9 December 2013 08: 05
      The car depot is hardly capable of this. But the Persians still got something for themselves)
  3. AVV
    AVV 9 December 2013 11: 03
    There are a lot of means of Rab that they can, only all the possibilities are not advertised in the open press !!! So, as they planted, they will plant !!! Belarusians also have such equipment !!!
  4. Ahmed Osmanov
    Ahmed Osmanov 9 December 2013 11: 14
    Every day we read about the latest American UAVs and you understand how far behind we are. This fact is very depressing.
  5. nikolas 83
    nikolas 83 9 December 2013 16: 53

    Yes, while Russia is lagging behind. But I think we will create a full-fledged drone. It is necessary to simultaneously develop promising UAV detection and destruction systems.
    1. Gluxar_
      Gluxar_ 9 December 2013 21: 51
      Quote: nikolas 83
      Yes, while Russia is lagging behind. But I think we will create a full-fledged drone. It is necessary to simultaneously develop promising UAV detection and destruction systems.

      They are already being developed and implemented everywhere. Tracked robotic systems are also being developed in Russia, which is more important for real combat. Air strike weapons are also on the way, it's just that Russia does not make a "wunderwaffe" out of a UAV, realizing that such a technique is ineffective against an equal enemy. And it is not going to fight against the pygmies of Russia yet.