I was browsing Google Trends and queried “RQ-170” to see what geographical regions were most interested in the subject, after being acknowledged
on December 4, 2009 by the USAF.
Google Trends - No Filters
Google Trends - with Filter "United States"
I found some of the results interesting. Some speculation on locations that are returned:
Las Vegas, NV: Recent flight ops were out of TTR (mostly by Palmdale folks) and perhaps initially at Yucca Lake or other, so support contractors
were involved. I've run across resumes from Booz Allen Hamilton that are linked to RQ-170.
St. Louis, MO: Why so much interest? Did Phantom Works compete for this contract? Or, are they a major subcontractor to Lockheed? Perhaps it's
just general industry interest.
Washington, DC: Pentagon, etc. No surprises.
San Diego, CA: General Atomics and Northrop Grumman. May tip information that GA-ASI was involved since it was operated by the same TTR group
running MQ-9 Reaper missions. However, may just be general interest from GA-ASI or Northrop Grumman (Ryan Aeronautical) employees.
Richardson, TX: Raytheon has a electronics/sensors branch there, see this article.
It doesn't appear the RQ-170 is
used for maritime operations, but understand may be one of several sensitive programs by Raytheon. I suspect one of the RQ-170 payloads is or will be
provided by them. I do recall the old RB-57s carried a missile detection system that required sensors that see above the aircraft, so that may also
be a payload.
Los Angeles, CA: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company ADP "Skunk Works" headed up system integration.
Dallas, TX: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company HQ. Likely general interest from employees.
Atlanta, GA: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. Likely general interest from employees.
Montgomery, AL: Why so much interest there? USAF Maxwell AFB Air University? I noticed they report up through Air Education and Training Command at
Randolph AFB, near San Antonio, TX. From another angle, there appears to be a link for the RQ-170 to the USAF ISR Agency (AFISRA) at Lackland AFB,
also in San Antonio, TX. I don't know if there's a connection.
I still believe the program is smaller than we may think, and I'm not speaking just to the physical size of the platform. The logistics footprint is
likely small based on resumes I’ve come across and have also read it's mostly run by Lockheed Palmdale personnel. Lockheed's not in the business
of generating revenue by support contracts, so this points to a small program size as well.