The existence of the Northrop Grumman RQ-180 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was unveiled by the United States Air Force in December of 2013. It is an unarmed, reconnaissance-minded platform intended for deep penetration actions over enemy airspace. It is assumed that the vehicle utilizes extensive stealth features including unique body-shaping and coatings to avoid enemy detection. The system is along the same form and function of the competing Lockheed RQ-170 Sentinel though with a more extended endurance envelope. The RQ-180 was selected ahead of competing designs offered by Boeing and Lockheed.
Northrop Grumman has already enjoyed considerable public exposure through recent successes with the X-47B product for the US Navy - completing the first-ever carrier landing by a UAV in aviation history. Northrop Grumman also has over a decades-worth of experience in supporting the technologically-advanced fleet of B-2 Spirit flying wing stealth bombers. It is believed that the new RQ-180 takes on a similar design shape as the X-47B. The vehicle's wingspan is estimated to be around 130 feet though little else on the product has been revealed to date (December 2013).
This article will be updated as new information becomes available.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
131.2 ft (40.00 m)
164.0 ft (50.00 m)
34.4 ft (10.50 m)
14,110 lb (6,400 kg)
44,533 lb (20,200 kg)
+30,424 lb (+13,800 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Northrop Grumman RQ-180 production variant)
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