Now, the French blog Secret Defense has published the clearest photos yet of the secret plane, and the mystery has only deepened.
The plane pictured above is clearly a next-generation UAV, but the question of which next-generation UAV it is has led to some debate. At first look, Steve Trimble of The DEW Line thought it resembled Lockheed's Polecat. However, Popsci's resident UAV expert Eric Hagerman pegged the mysterious drone as Boeing's X-45. Then again, John Pike of GlobalSecurity.net noted "for every UAV program we know about, there's one that we don't know about," suggested the new UAV may be part of some previously unannounced program.
In many ways, the confusion only highlights the uniformity of the next generation of UAVs. Both the X-45 and the Polecat incorporate stealth features, resemble the flying-wing shape first perfected by the B-2, and have just enough development behind them that battlefield testing doesn't seem unreasonable.
Amazing. A mere seven years after the CIA carried out its first drone strike, the Predator's replacements have already arrived in theater.
Not so amazing since we have been using UAV's since the start of the war in Afghan.
Its interesting because the current UAV's we are using dont have stealth capabilities. Also, the new craft could be designed for a different payload.
Its really Ironman's private jet, he went back to find his watch...
Replacement for the M1 Abrams?
@rib2 lol Must be one cramped little cockpit ...
Just how do the Taliban, insurgents, and Al Qaeda employ radar? I had thought that most of the anti-aircraft tech they used employed IR/heat tracking, like Stinger missiles, or just good eyes like an RPG.
If it really is a stealth UAV, is it really meant for the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq? Or is it just being tested there before being deployed to counter some other opponent that depends more on radar detection?
Or, could this just be a very skillful photomanipulation?
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but many of those words can form questions.
geez with so many unknown UAV's out there how am I supposed to know if its a UAV (man made ) or a UFO ( aliens ) theres too much stuff up there now to tell whats what ! ?
could be used for strikes inside Pakistan, since they don't want us to go over their airspace to deliver some Christmas presents
Polecat has been around for 10+ yrs, Phantom Ray (Boeing's X-45) is returning to Edwards AFB next summer, Northrop Grumman's X-47 is starting flight test operations at Edwards AFB right now, all of which look like this UAS in question right now..........my guess it's either Skunk or Northrop Grumman
Definetly one of those two.Its a fair bet that it may be an operational version of the X-47, or the black version thereof. Such things have occured before, with the F-117, AQM-113 Compass Arrow, and many others.
The landing gear doors and exhaust are quite different from the X-47A PEGASUS. The doors were changed on X-47B but they still don't look like this UAV. POLECAT is a twin engine UAV with a larger wingspan.
It is a 1732 mile (2,788 km) round trip flight from Kandahar to Tehran, too far to fly without midair refueling; something that needs to be demonstrated to the military as the X-45C had a refueling receptacle on the aft part of the left wing.
This is probably a project in the Air Force Long Range Strike program. Looks a little like X-45C but Boeing lost that contract to NG's X-47 program. However, they did use the X-45C frame for the PHANTOM RAY project "REBLUE".
So my guess is that this is PHANTOM RAY and that it is there demonstrating weapons carriage and employment; electronic attack; intelligence, surveillance and recon; sigint, and directed energy payloads to the military.
It's Crichton's pod out of Farscape.
It's a cardboard cutout propped up by a two by four and photographed on a runway... it's for sale if you want it.
This is not the UAV you're looking for. Move along...
It is a UAV, Military Channel had it on its top ten Ultimate Weapons, Don't remember the name but. It flies at about 30000 and only for recon. but was made to hold 4500lb payload. It was made for aircraft carrier landing and take off. Can stay in the air for 50 hours at a time as long as it has fuel.
All these UAVs... nobody realizes that USAF doesn't have enough pilots to pilot them. Apparently they are putting some personnel through crash-courses of flying these birds.
these are unnecessary, we should be mass producing iron man/war machine suits
Obviously this was created for an enemy we are not currently or openly fighting. Just how dependent do you think the taliban and alkida are on radar. An unmanned stealth bomber could do some interesting things in interesting places. Perhaps in's internatinal relations that keep it quiet, or maybe the politicians don't want to let us know they give boeing $100,000,000 for each one.
this is definitely not any of the uavs we know about. this one has no chines, two humps on each wing, and its wingers are different from all the other models. this is either a knew type we dont know about or just a different prototype for the same kind of plane. and whatever its doing in afghanistan, its definitely not supposed to be known about.
" UAV is online" (CoD4MW2 reference)
I live about three miles from the former corn field out in the country near St. Charles, MO where Boeing tests the XB-45 and other A/C for radar signatures. A few years ago I was out there and took a picture of a tethered XB-45 being tested... the plane below is nearly identical to that aircraft. I took pictures from several aspects before Boeing security got irritated. We published one of them in DefenseWatch.
Regards, Nat Helms
i lol at all your comments XD
but this is cool where can i buy one?
why is it secret?
and why is my sandwhich on fire?
Iran. Might as well call it what it was built for.
Long range, unmanned, stealth bomber - Iran.
Built for Iran, stationed near Iran, and tested against Iran (fly it over head and see if they notice).
WHat has our USAFssss gotsss? itsss my preciouss. i wantss it.
--Gollum on UUAV (Unidentified Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)
Stealth attributes can be useful for forays into Pakistan. We are operating there, and every time there is a strike it results in bad publicity. Better to keep and eye on things and not be seen, I would think.
that is supprising and cool at the same time
Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been very costly in American lives and money. If we could saturate the air space over battle zones with such stealth aircraft, it might not affect the cost much initially, but could cut the cost in human life dramatically, and could help reduce the time we need to remain there.
With saturated airspace, every time there was, for instance, an improvised explosive device used, a whole different tactic is possible. We have the potential to catch every terrorist in the act; and if we don't actually catch him, we can at least track where he went, and where he came from. Where he came from can be just as important as where he went, especially if it means we can wipe out an entire cell of such rogues.
In any case, if we have the potential to track everyone everywhere they go, there is no way for them to continue their operations for very long before we neutralize them completely. These vehicles are so precise in their observations and can fly so high that even the best of eyes cannot see them, even until the aircraft releases the bomb or rocket that kills them. Even the most determined and fearless insurgents and terrorists cannot counter such tactics.
The Predator's replacements have been in theater for quite a while - they're called MQ-9 Reapers.
Oh, what's that flying silver thing doing in our air space? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!! and that was the end of the war in Iraq.
It's no secret anymore ;). They should conseal military secrets more.
bws28 and aircraft does not have to have "Stealth Technology" to be stealthy, as long as it is small and has a low radar cross section (like a Predator or a Reaper) it could be considered stealthy as it is. A lot of people wouldn't think it but the F-16 is a little stealthy just because of its size...
Anyone else find it ironic that supposedly for every UAV we know about, there's one we don't.... Yet, we found the stealth UAV? Hmmmmmmmm
you left it in the microwave too long.
my guess is that this thing is really just a cardboard cutout set up and this really bad pic sent out to engage us all in conversation about conspiracy as to distract us from the real conspiracy...