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In mid-2011 a freelance photographer — I agreed to withhold his name — was visiting the Air Force’s Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, a somewhat less secretive adjunct to Groom Lake. While walking along the tarmac with an officer guide, the photographer spotted, some 150 yards away, what appeared at first to be a Sentinel drone parked in an open hangar. But upon closer inspection, the photog noticed details inconsistent with the recently-revealed Sentinel. The engine air intake was different. The skin material seemed less metallic. And the craft was apparently much bigger than the Sentinel, which by then had appeared only in grainy photos taken in Afghanistan. (Tehran’s capture of a crashed Sentinel was still a few months off, but the photographer later said that the details revealed by Iranian footage of the wrecked UAV only confirmed his earlier impressions.) It was clear the Air Force had not intended the photographer to see the new ‘bot, whatever it was. The colonel leading the tour grew uncomfortable. “I was specifically asked not to photograph it and I complied,” the photog said of the mystery drone. Recalling the encounter, the photographer concluded he had seen a new variant of the Sentinel. He was not aware at that time that Northrop was developing, and the Air Force and CIA were testing in and around Area 51, a brand-new, larger and better UAV. It’s possible that’s what he saw. The RQ-180. The secretive future of drone warfare, long in development and finally, today, outed by the press.
reply to post by Astr0
That's one of the things about Afghanistan and Iraq. When you have uncontested airspace, you can do all that, and more. The problem, that they're slowly learning, is what happens when you have contested airspace, and UAVs that aren't long legged, or stealthy.
reply to post by corblimeyguvnor
And I was quite polite in answering that this will operate at high enough altitudes that you won't be able to see it visually from the ground. This is a high altitude UAV, and even with binoculars you won't be able to see it.
The other replies were to someone else, not you.edit on 12/6/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)
reply to post by mbkennel
That's only if they haven't incorporated anything else in the skin. There have been some interesting experiments over the years that would make the color meaningless at any altitude.