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Meet the XRQ-72A Great Owl

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posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 11:07 AM
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For all the guff I and others give the The Warzone over on The Drive, they occasionally come up with something interesting. Rogoway has a penchant for getting things more than a bit wrong at times and definitely oversensationalizes a lot of things. *cough*ticktack*cough* However, in this case, Team Warzone did find something interesting. It's not a massive reveal, to be sure, but it is something worth noting.

Team Rogoway has, through the FOIA, found the AFRL's XRQ-72A Great Owl program:



The Great Owl was named for the fact the aircraft was designed to be as quiet as possible. Owls are noted for being able to fly silently, hence, the name. The XRQ-72A did so by using a hybrid electric propulsion system. The hope was they could reduce the noise enough to make it even harder for the aircraft to be spotted than, say, a Reaper.

The aircraft is not large. The wingspan is 30 ft and the length is a mere 11 ft and change: 9m and 3.3m, for folks from civilized countries. Rogoway et al call it a "blended wing-body," but except for the winglets, I'd have called this pretty much a standard flying wing: the B-2 isn't called anything other than a flying wing and it has a significant bulge in the fuselage, frex. Perhaps others can explain why they see the difference here.

Rogoway makes a big deal out of the designation. Yes, it is a recon bird or so intended. However, the X or Y designations have become very blurred in the last 30 years and especially after the F-35 program. I don't think designation was anything of note and not much should be read into it.

Finally, did this lead to something actually going into production? It's not really clear. The AFRL does a LOT of different programs, experimentally speaking, and abandons them when the advantages are not sufficiently large. On the other hand, we do see the Valkyrie, which seems to be on track to becoming a program of record so long as it keeps chuffing along. That said, I'd lean towards 'no.'

That said, it is an interesting bird and well worth sharing.

www.thedrive.com...




posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 11:17 AM
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a reply to: anzha

It's the placement of the engines. The blended wing places the engines up like that instead of in the fuselage like the B-2.



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 11:22 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Fair enough. And I biffed it in the name. It should be the Great HORNED Owl. Sigh.



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 02:32 PM
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well put anzha

It's not completely impossible that they picked the designation to obscure something else.

Since the program evolved into the little owl thingy anyway, i highly doubt it flew.



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 02:36 PM
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I think I am missing some significance or context. Can someone possibly enlighten me please?



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 04:31 PM
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It was a distributed propulsion demonstrator to specifically test how far they could drop the acoustic signature of an ISR UAV in that class. That's it. X-designation because it was demonstrating those two things. Operationally useful endurance with distributed propulsion. Validation/minimization of the expected acoustic properties.

No idea personally whether it or something like it made it to fruition. I doubt it, because most of the work desired for demonstration would/could have been done just in acoustic ranges, not just the flying range at White Sands. This testing actually happened. Flight tests and White Sands work, I don't know. Again, I suspect not, but *shrug*

Basically, there are many places in the world where a Fury-class UAV would be more useful if one could not hear it. All the subsequent work on the Fury, makes me think GHO didn't go far, if anywhere. Fury work would be largely redundant.

Right now, if you've never heard a Predator or Reaper from the ground, they sound like a buzz or hum. The Pakis call them the "machar" (mosquitoes). So when the baddies in Sandistan are out and up to no good, they know the hum of the mosquitoes is a good clue to make themselves scarce and/or look like they are doing something innocent. At the least, they are alert and more careful. A quiet drone would give operators a better chance of finding bad guys doing bad guy things. Like police cars cruising a neighborhood, sometimes being very noticeable is great. Other times, not so much. Annoying everybody in towns and villages, literally buzzing them, and letting them know they're under the microsope 24/7, isn't great for winning hearts and minds either.

Beyond purely military applications, the public at large is more accepting of things that don't annoyingly announce their presence, wildlife may be spooked, etc, etc So there are clearly applications if the technology works and is affordable.

Again, no idea where it went if anywhere, but I suspect it's a dead end. The fact that it'd be real, real easy to not fulfill a FOIA request on an active and "quiet" (pun) program, only adds to that suspicion. IARPA (and not AFRL) was/is running the program. Basically DARPA, but for intelligence community, not the DOD.


ETA: GHO would have used a net-recovery similar to the Fury's and was to be compatible with SideArm. No landing gear.
edit on 31-3-2020 by RadioRobert because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 05:04 PM
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Posting so I can read last reply. Disregard, sorry.

While I'm on the topic though, recent as of the last couple months when viewing on mobile the last post of any thread is always offset to the left, so I cant ever read the first 3 or 4 letters of any line in that post. Anyone else see this issue at all?



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 05:25 PM
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a reply to: sputniksteve

I started having thar problem when I updated my Android OS and Chrome. You have to refresh to center it.



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 05:35 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Yeah it does the same to me. Even weirder when I'm at home on my WiFi pics don't show at all but when I turn WiFi and just use mobile data they do show up



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 07:23 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: sputniksteve

I started having thar problem when I updated my Android OS and Chrome. You have to refresh to center it.


I dont know how I never thought to try refresh, thanks a million!



posted on Mar, 31 2020 @ 09:58 PM
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a reply to: anzha

heck it could be a new snowgoose



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