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Originally posted by gariac
reply to post by Xoanon
These first generation drones all seem to have the same basic bulge in the front. [That IAI drone looks like a Predator from the front.] That is where the satellite dish is held. But the stealthy ones seem to get around that need. What is also interesting is these stealthy looking UAVs have swept swings, but for low speed, straight wings are supposed to be better. Maybe the RQ-170 can't fly as slow as a Predator.
Yup, it's a straight lift vs drag tradeoff. At low speeds lift matters more, and high speeds you have plenty of lift and want to minimize drag. Note that since you don't have to put people in a tube, the flat triangle shape gives lots of lift without needing too much cross-section as seen from the front.
Given that the RQ-170 has a jet and a Predator has a prop, it is pretty certain that it has to fly faster (jets are too inefficient at slow speeds). Though the RQ-170 is pretty wide so it doesn't seem it would be optimized for that high speed operation.
One assumes the RQ-170 is used in less permissive air defense environments than a Predator, and so a jet is more advantageous. Also the sensors may be "faster" and able to get as much detail while going at a higher speed.