All of a sudden it was there, but then like any good stealth aircraft it vanished. Now the "Beast of Kandahar" has resurfaced in new photos, spurring aviation and defense wonks to once again speculate about the function and purpose of such a stealthy-looking unmanned aerial system.
The Beast, also known as the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, first appeared in 2009 in the skies over Kandahar in Afghanistan. It was later revealed to be a product of Lockheed's Skunk Works and property of the U.S. Air Force, but that's about all that was revealed. What the RQ-170 is designed to do—or is doing in Afghanistan—remains under wraps.
Bill Sweetman, keeper of Aviation Week's Ares blog and the civilian authority on the drone at this point, has speculated that aside from the obvious reconnaissance functions, the Beast could perhaps be configured to carry "a high-powered microwave source" to fry computers and electronic equipment on the ground, or an electronic jamming platform to support other aircraft. But at the official level, silence surrounds the Beast of Kandahar and its potential combat (or non-combat) functions, and quiet is exactly the way a secret stealth drone likes it.
funny, combat or non-combat? testing it in a combat zone would certainly mean it has a combat role :-)
M&M's were tested in WWII combat, but I eat them at home every day!!!
it's true. can't argue with those facts.
I doubt the aircraft is flying over Afghanistan...does anyone in here really think that you need a stealth drone because the Taliban have air defenses which can shut down a regular drone? It's flying into Pakistan...I bet my hard earned money on that.
Sure, they may do some systems testing and such over Afghanistan every now and then, but the real world tests happen in Pakistani airspace.
@drchuck1, there are non combat drones and aircraft flying in combat zones all the time. ECM, Recon, PsiOps. just because it's flying in an area where it can potentialy be shot dow doesn't mean that it may be doing the shooting.
Pakistan? I think Afghanistan's neighboor to the east might be the AO of this Beast.
Is this from area 51?
You guys are not reading this idea correctly. They are not flying this multi-million dollar bad boy over combat air space and risk a proto-type from being shot down. This would wreck the entire project and the propose sale.
"Allowing this picture to be taken is just so that world can see a new threat in the skies over Afgan Paki"
You guys know that Skunk Works project Test are performed in the USA, not over seas unless its gotten past certain final shake down test like "Bomb Dropping" etc... This place does not appear even close to those types of shake down.
Here's the thing.
I understand the pov's people are putting across here.
But surely if it is 'Stealth' then the damn thing could be circling our back yards and we wouldn't know it.
So is it not possible that they cautiously tested it out in Afghan skies.
These kinds of stories will surely scare the S**t out of the Taliban and other nutters out there.
I remember reading some where that is was like an information sponge.
R in RQ-170 means recon. Just like the Rc-135, u-2R, Rc-130, sR-71, etc. The Q could be the new designation for unmanned aircraft. However, I could be wrong about the Q part, it could designate it as an experimental type. If it had an attack role, it would be designated A, bomber - B, and fighter - F. Except in the case of the F-117, which is actually an Attack/Bomber.
The R part probably means it is a $!G!NT platform, collecting signals for intel purposes. Satellites make !M!NT, imagery from flying platforms near obsolete. Also, unmanned helicopters make better platforms for imagery when you need more detailed photos because they are low and slow and can capture better stills.
ryius - I agree with your assessment on the Recon Quotient :-)
But in all seriousness folks, Stealth does not mean that you can't be shot down so let's get the facts straight. Remember that Chine bought parts of a downed F-117 from farmers in Serbia. I know that the middle east does not possess rocket technology like that, but few due in the Arab black market if you have the dough to pay Iran. LOL! No designation, no tags means puppet for the viewers who aren't savy on our practices.