December 12th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

U.S. seeks spy edge with stealth drone

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

It looks like a bat, sweeping, turning. But it’s actually the new super-secret Air Force stealth drone.

CNN has learned this unmanned spy plane is designed to fly for up to 24 hours behind enemy lines in countries like North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

Military sources tell CNN it will give the United States a critical stealth advantage to spy on countries that have strong air defense systems able to shoot down more conventional aircraft.

The drone, believed to be called the RQ-180, was first revealed by the magazine Aviation Week and Space Technology in a lengthy article co-authored by Amy Butler and Bill Sweetman, both long time experts in classified military stealth technology.

The program is so classified the Air Force would not confirm its existence to CNN or Aviation Week.

But several U.S. officials told CNN its capabilities are a top intelligence gathering priority– especially after a less sophisticated stealth drone went down in Iran in 2012.

The key, Butler said, is the drone’s ability to fly long distance and stay aloft for 24 hours in a stealthy manner.

"This aircraft will be able to penetrate that border and conduct operations in and around an enemy airspace without being targeted," Butler told CNN.

It’s so secret the drone is believed to be at a hangar at Area 51 - the Air Force's highly secure flight test center in Nevada.

The drone may be able to fly as high as 11 miles. The requirement for an asset that is stealthy, can fly at high altitude and conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance is a crucial priority for the military and the intelligence community.

Plan for a new spy plan unveiled

In several countries, air defenses have improved significantly in recent years making it difficult if not impossible for U.S. assets to gather information.

The drone’s ability to stay up for 24 hours will also give it a key advantage over satellites which often pass by a target intermittently and are subject to be being detected.

Butler said the shape of the drone means enemy radars can't easily see the drone as heat it throws off is shielded so radars can’t pick it up.

“This aircraft is designed to evade both those thermal sensor, those radar sensors, and other sensors that look for aircraft.  So it might not be invisible to radar, but you might not be able to target it and shoot it down.”

Butler suggested the drone may even be able to carry sensors that can listen to cell phone calls and any “activities on enemy frequency, radar activities, that sort of thing.”

Although it’s not confirmed, the magazine suggested the drone could be operating as soon as 2015.

Navy launches stealth destroyer

soundoff (664 Responses)
  1. ug

    This just shows how the libs are war mongers...

    December 12, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  2. Kevin

    Now if only they would put in a self destruct to it when it detects a problem and falls to earth instead of letting it land in Iran again.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  3. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    only people who live live and die people that die do not live

    December 12, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  4. jay

    why the hell would you unveil this to the world....now the enemies know our capabilities thank you social media!!

    December 12, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  5. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Congress is treasoness

    December 12, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Reply
    • anthj99

      Oh wow, I have no idea what that word means, but it sounds bad.

      December 13, 2013 at 2:18 am | Reply
  6. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    PERIOD.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  7. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    actualy they threaten Citezens way more...ever follow the News...ever work in the "news"...you know its true...Lil-Kim killed his treasoness uncle-obviously that comes from one place the Military.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  8. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    The "white" house threatens citiens as often as they F-up...

    December 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  9. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Still have not closed GITMO...because the Military controls it.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  10. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Politicos in the US are Military...

    December 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  11. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    the US Military is treasoness...

    December 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  12. rlavallee2869

    It disgusts me that this information is being made public. Does love of country not exist at all anymore? What about common sense? It's nothing short of treasonous.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • Penselife

      I fully agree!!

      December 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • MAX

      This website and that magazine only care about $. The fools that think their liberty is being given don't know what it means to live in an oppressive society.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  13. dudley

    Go AIR FORCE!

    Everybody else is just trying to catch up!

    December 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  14. davinski

    I was told that if it stays up for 4 hours I should seek immediate medical attention.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  15. Mike

    Seems sad that news agencies are willing to violate our country's secret efforts, such as this for the small value of a story. While the argument is valid that perhaps we spy too much, this type of dialogue should not be internationally displayed. I imagine N. Korea, Iran, the Soviets and so forth taking notes on such articles. Likewise articles, some even by police telling the exact mistake some serial killer made that got them caught. You can bet that once such info is published, enemy countries and criminals learn to change their tactics.
    When we were still looking for Bin Laden, I recall seeing on the news that we were using cell phone tracking to locate him. I thought; "what the he…." If he was using a cell to communicate, I was sure it was going to end after that article.
    Yes our politicians are so "big brother" oriented that some of this is necessary since they certainly use what they want on us and our allies but the fact remains that in regard to criminals and the military some things are best kept from the public. Specifics about new drones used to spy on Kim Ping Pong of N. Korea can be kept out of the world public eye. His advisors are undoubtedly reading such articles and coming up with methods to overcome surveillance from 11 miles up.
    Not to sound extreme but I am thinking that 20 years ago, publishing something like this would have been called … oh, I don't know…. "treason." Since when can experts publish facts about top secret or classified military devices in public without being arrested? Is it just me? I don't get it.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • rlavallee2869

      Pitiful isn't it? I don't get it either. In any society that makes sense Barbara Starr would be in a cell at Gitmo.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  16. dust devil

    I guess it isn't a double secret spy plane anymore eh?

    December 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  17. shooter

    It is a modified Northrop-Grumman X-47B.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  18. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Obama (military) aproves of his own work...

    December 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  19. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    be careful those moose can't defend themselfs...

    December 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  20. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    do those Moose carry chopsticks or the "Ginsue" knife

    December 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  21. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Not theirs Yours ($).

    December 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  22. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    December 12, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  23. dajowi

    Soon to be not appearing in a community near you.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  24. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Th"white"house (military) aproves the budget (military)...the US stabed in the back again...I cannot remember the last time I saw a White baby with White parents that spoke Ameican or English (unbroken).

    December 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  25. Doug willoughby

    Only in America do we tell everyone of our top secret... Why tell everybody that we have a drone that can do all of this

    December 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  26. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    ever hear of Nixon

    December 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  27. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    the US layed down on China in 1970's

    December 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  28. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    keep dumbing down the people they have no choice they will never have a choice...who is Running in 2014 (no choice) who is running in 2016 (no choice) no choice is no choice...

    December 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  29. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    You already told Congress what too do today there is no hope.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  30. Jack

    How do you 'reveal' something without an actual picture?

    December 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Reply
  31. bob

    Wow! The raving paranoids out in West Overshoe are really going to go ballistic about this. Now their government has drones they won't be able to shoot down because they won't even be able to see them. What good's it' going to do to pass a municipal ordinance making it legal? They might just as well try to pass local laws to keep science and education from corrupting the minds of their children. Or did they already try that?

    December 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  32. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    You mean to say that the Military Budget doubles every Administration like clock-work...how many wars is the US in...how many wars has the US won...as many as possible & none...

    December 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Reply
    • Candid One

      Congress has Power of the Purse. The defense appropriations originate in the Congress. DOD can't spend what's not provided to the Executive Branch by the Legislative Branch. It is what it is.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  33. Captain Wolff

    Great. That's several million bucks down the drain for me. Have you ANY IDEA how much work will be required to build another radar set and calibrate it to spot this thing? Even then, it may not work if the cross-section doesn't show up big enough for my SAM turret to ping. I guess this is the consequence of living in a town which legalized shooting down drones. Absolute arms race.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  34. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    do anything today that made any difference to anyone anywhere if so where...Your answer Uhm...China...wait...Uhm duh....

    December 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  35. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Obama to Enemy States please please Enemy States please come to America and enslave it just like you want too....

    December 12, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  36. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    O bye the way the Military is passing law at the state level right now to beg the secret donations for political campaigns from enemy states...

    December 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  37. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Its all slight of hand the public sChool are fored to teach what the Military demands...

    December 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  38. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    how many chinamen do you know who say there name is Mike...but its not...

    December 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  39. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    its called buisness travel...

    December 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  40. tychi

    " the new super-secret Air Force stealth drone" and naturally CNN had to expose it and let everyone know. Between Congressmen and the media, it is a wonder the military has any secrets.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • rg33

      Aviation Week actually did the exposing. CNN just picked it up off the wire. Even Homeland showed 'em with the CIA. Ho hum, as if we didn't already figure that the $600 Billion/year DOD budget didn't include stuff like this. Just think what NASA could do with just 1 year's DOD funding! We'd be building star ships!

      December 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Reply
    • doug

      The drone is no secret. The Air Force is perfectly happy that Syria and Iran know the thing is flying around over their capitol and there is not a damned thing they can do about it.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Reply
    • Ruby

      Relax, this is disinformation.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Reply
    • REDMOM

      Some of the comments on here just astound me. All these people complaining about DoD and the military. You all would be the LOUDEST to complain if we were attacked on our own soil. Would you really want us to lay down and take it? And when people BEG us to intervene... we should turn our backs on tyants and let the powerless voiceless die. You should be on your knees thanking anyone who served this country and who gave their life. You have the right to post here. As for CNN .. they take their dire need to compete in the capitalistic media market place to dangerous levels for the sake of what sells. Secret MEANS secret. Guess you don't get that.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  41. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    They are operating in U.S. air space dummy.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • Candid One

      How could that be otherwise if it's based in New Mexico?

      December 12, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  42. adibese

    How would Americans act if North Korea, China and Iran were conducting "operations" in their air space?

    December 12, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Reply
    • rg33

      The NRA would declare open season!

      December 12, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  43. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Ever have a beer with farm-truck or murder Nova...of course not you don't live in America because you are in the Military.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  44. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    They are feeling pressed to silence the press...

    December 12, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  45. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Do you want to awaken call the Congressional switchboard and ask where your military master controlled contoler is and why they hate America so much.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  46. smdahl

    Barbara Starr: Mouthpiece of Murder.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  47. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    I ment $ and religon.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  48. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    They don't teach that in school...

    December 12, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  49. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    The military is more than 50 percent of all "jobs"...problem is they are not Jobs...

    December 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • sawolf

      Incorrect.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  50. sybaris

    Old news

    Just like the NSA activities.............. it's all out there, you just gotta know what open source material to look for.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  51. Sausage Frenzy

    Everything the US does is making the world a worse place.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Reply
    • smdahl

      Absolutely true. How long until we awaken?

      December 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Reply
    • doug

      Excuse me, but I think you are mistaken. Some things the US does are wrong. Some countries do almost everything wrong, such as Syria, North Korea, Iran, and others. Because we have to protect the free world from monsters, we have to do things we would rather not have to do. Stealth drones is one of those things. If you are living in one of the trouble making countries, you should be worried. That's what we want. Stay that way.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  52. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    Education is used to control people.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Reply
    • Ruby

      Oh yes, the lack of it leaves people ignorant and easily lead by those who are educated.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • sawolf

      If you actually learn how to learn Education liberates.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  53. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    "A little ganja goes a long way." too imprison Americans.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  54. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    The newest latest profit: (-N-S-A-) writes: The Military knows and cares to silence you."

    December 12, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Reply
    • Jraven

      The newest latest profit?? Did you by any chance mean prophet???

      December 12, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  55. Jimmie

    If you see it here, you can bet the Chinese already have it.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  56. DasBoot

    I'd rather spend money on a drone then spend money on a drone

    December 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  57. Alan

    I guess we owe the DoD our thanks for placing the U.S. on top of the defense heap once again.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  58. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    You don't protect military lives.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  59. Emperor Obama

    Waste of money – more bloated government spending.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  60. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    This is a distration from what the Military is about too really do to real Americans through congress and the "white"house and the "Supreme court in just hours.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  61. OldWest

    Once you have experience war first hand, anything that saves American soldiers lives is fine with me...

    December 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  62. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    one single drone costs each American 200 dollars a year that's before you steal every single dollar they ever make which you do as much as you can...

    December 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  63. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    The Worldbank is Military.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • CW Messenger

      A little ganja goes a long way.

      December 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Reply
  64. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    you donot protect the "home"land but you do fly drones over "it".

    December 12, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  65. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    You can't get out of war only get in more wars.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  66. Idfhjk Jdgjlhk

    You Spend 1 million dollars on a troop each year and all the rest of your numbers are complete and total lies.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  67. YoYoMa

    What a poorly written article. Radar doesn't see heat, thermal sensors see heat. Things like cooled and uncooled microbolometer cameras. The awkwardness of the writers style is all I could focus on when reading about the secret drone. "Butler said the shape of the drone means enemy radars can't easily see the drone as heat it throws off is shielded so radars can’t pick it up" I REPEAT::::: RADAR DOES NOT PICK UP HEAT, IT PICKS UP SURFACES THROUGH MONOSTATIC OR BISTATIC RADIO DISTANCE AND RANGING. Also, saying "radars" is like saying mooses, it's just RADAR just like Moose. Microbolometer cameras are not a type of radar, they are a type of "sensor" that is integrated into an entire sensor suite with different detection devices, vis camera, laser trackers, laser pointers, etc... It would be nice if whoever writes these articles actually knew what they were talking about and didn't act as a medium between the people that do and the people that dont.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Reply
    • YoYoMa

      I missed one crucial piece of information. It was written by Barbara Starr.... wooops, I completely understand now. Ignore my rant.

      December 12, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Reply
    • kevin

      I"M PICKING UP MOOSES ON THE RADAR

      December 12, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  68. Victor

    Super Secret.... Obviously more important than just Secret technology. I wonder if they have a Super Super Secret class of technology? Maybe they should have just said it was Super Duper Secret.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  69. Joe

    We didn't already have them? What are they spending those trillions of dollars on? We should have drones that never have to land.

    December 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  70. Captjoe

    So new that one crashed in Pakistan 3 years ago... The pictures were on this very site...

    December 12, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • S

      Way to keep Tup Secrets SECRET, CNN!!

      December 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Reply
    • Someguysarerude

      Completely different drone. Looks similar, sorta.

      December 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  71. eclectic1945

    USA has over 190 bases, Active military actively in 10+ countries and a massive Homeland Security at Frederal, State & local levels etc. People from all view points are saying what is the good of this. Are we safer than say before 9/11. War has moved from mobile manned to unmanned mobile. End game is no USA troops in sky or ground. We now can defend USA from Colorado Spring if we need to. Technology will allow budget to come down just like at CISCO or GM. For better or worse less people & more productivity in new technology driven culture. Maybe just for discussion we do not need a defense budget larger than next 10 combined (many are allies and spend like France with us)? Maybe top 7 combined will do? The other big issue is if our Military is best in world than why is USA behind on other major indexes like education, health, crime etc. Also look at Military issues of those Heros when they come home. What is real security? When I grew up it was simple good neighbors & neighborhoods.

    December 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      Buildling weapons and bombs is easy compared to education. Look what we pay defense contractors. look what we pay teachers. Who seems to be the most valuable?

      December 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Reply
      • Amused

        Bingo! You hit the nail on the head! Our government tends to operate with a military mentality, so it is NO surprise that they will spend TRILLIONS of dollars on efforts to be the first to build the next great military capability of______ (fill in the blank), but they are only willing to spend a few dollars to pay teachers to educate our future generations!
        You understand perfectly how AND WHY this happens!
        I don't know HOW to change nor remedy this, but acknowledging the problem would be be a good first step!

        December 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
      • sawolf

        Education is locally funded, not federally. Yet the Department of Education is responsible for the dumbing down of the curriculum. Spent 8 years teaching secondary level Math.The Federal Government is ineffective, witness the ACA website debacle, 630,000,000 bucks and 3+ years, total failure.

        December 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  72. doug

    Could they put a batman symbol on it.

    December 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  73. ManatiDiPorci

    I thought it was a bat in the sky. it got me good. Besides all those parts were MADE IN CHINA and ASSEMBLED IN MEXICO and sold to US.

    December 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  74. chief67

    Our government. Its a secret. So they put it on youtube.

    December 12, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  75. ray jones

    What baloney our media presents: "so secret" that it's kept in Area-51 (probably in the same hangar at the old UFO's. "So secret" that is was described in Aviation Week and Space Technology. If it's "so secret" why are we reading about it? Is it now "so secret?"

    December 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Reply
    • Yoduh

      secret as in classified. don't get your pants so twisted.

      December 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  76. Katrina

    Wonder if the testing of this could have been all the "trumpets in the sky" sounds people have been hearing all over the world since 2011

    December 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  77. KofaSing KoodGarma

    "Although it’s not confirmed, the magazine suggested the drone could be operating as soon as 2015." "The drone has been operational since 2011."

    December 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  78. getthemout

    Why do we as Americans have to give up our life,liberty and pursuit of happiness,to keep an eye on those that want to kill us.
    Wouldn't it make more sense to gather them all up,destroy their military bases,(mosques), and if after all that if you seen one running around you would know that he was up to something.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Reply
    • Ed

      "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." – Thomas Jefferson

      December 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Reply
      • getthemout

        Define vigilance,because what we have here is internal ignorance.

        December 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • burbanktj

      you sound hitleresque by the way. why don't we just bomb the crud out of anyone that has a different belief than us while we are at it.

      December 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Reply
      • getthemout

        I sound hitleresque,what,is,forcing sharia law.

        December 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  79. rob

    "Butler said the shape of the drone means enemy radars can't easily see the drone as heat it throws off is shielded so radars can’t pick it up."

    Then Butler is bull excrementing you, radar does not pick up heat, it picks up the reflected signal that the radar array sent out.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • Ed

      You aren't up on the latest radar tech are you?

      December 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Reply
      • Ernie

        Rob is correct. Radar detects reflections of the signals it transmits, not heat. Thermal shielding is a defense against heat-seeking missiles, and that's probably why it's there.

        December 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
      • sawolf

        Advanced radar operates detecting submillimeter emr, heat is slightly >700 nanometer emr,

        December 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • JG

      There are many types of radar. One of these is infrared radar, which picks up heat signatures. FLIR, for example, is a forward looking infrared radar that is used by certain military aircraft to identify and select targets for their infrared-seeking weaponry (AIM-9s, for example).

      So yes, the thermal shielding is important for avoiding infrared radar identification, tracking and targeting.

      December 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Reply
      • Joe User

        Technically you are wrong and he is right. RADAR – Radio Detection and Ranging only emits radio waves to bounce off of targets. FLIR – Forward Looking Infrared is not radar. It is a light and/or heat sensor. It emits nothing. There is no such thing as heat sensing RADAR.

        December 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
      • JJ

        Since when did infrared fall off of the electromagnetic spectrum? Joe, infrared and radio waves are both light waves.

        December 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
      • JJ

        Whoops, my bad, I should have wrote since when did radio waves fall of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves are light waves as well as infrared.

        December 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
      • bitz

        The IR in FLIR is not Infrared Radar, it is for InFrared as the light wave. Aim-9s don't use a flir system to detect a heat signature, they use the seeker head in the nose of the missile wihich detects the "heat" from the source (say an aircraft engine) and then homes in on the source.

        December 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  80. mike

    Which indirectly proves that Iran has no detectable clandestine Nuke program, because if they did, this technology would proves it, and it hasn't.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • Ken

      Mike...read the article, then you won't make a fool of yourself....the drone comes out 2015....

      December 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • Leaderless

      You are attempting to prove a negative, which can't be done. If the drones do exist, and they have revealed that Iran does in fact have a nuclear weapons program, then revealing so would tip the US hand and unnecessarily expose a valuable asset.

      December 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  81. Really?

    If this comes out now, that means that this is about 3-4 generations behind the latest.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  82. Freedom Fascist

    More and more children in poverty in the US. Thank god the Nazis...er, Communists...I mean...the Terrorists (yeah – that's the ticket) won't be a threat to us anymore.

    Are we really living in a democracy? Really? That means we are the most ignorant country on earth!

    December 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Reply
    • Ed

      No, we live in a Republic, not a Democracy. You got a problem with poverty? Take a close look at all the CRAP your liberal democrat buddies spend our money on.

      December 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Reply
    • JG

      What the heck does this have to do with your agenda?

      December 12, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Reply
    • sawolf

      Well lets spend 800,000,000,000 on shovel ready projects that never existed and give multiple billions for political cronies businesses that promptly go belly up. BTW 15 ,000,000,000,000 been transferred to the poor since the 1960's and there are more poor. Perhaps we Taxpayers shouldn't subsidize their replication?

      December 12, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  83. markodavid

    schools,health care,infrastructure,social security, foreign aid, OR, drones : you choose,ok, you do not choose this is what gets rammed down our throat by the military industrial complex that is owned by the 1% of americans who are the most disgusting group of humans in this world.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • John in WNY

      Just wanted to point out that total government spending on education in the US actually exceeds military spending by more then $200 billion dollars last year and also this year.

      December 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
      • Craig

        Hmm. Show us the facts. In truth, the military portion of the Federal budget dwarfs ALL other spending. Now, if you're including "all government spending" by lumping in local, city, state, and school district spending then the number will be larger, but, of course, none of those other layers of government operate a military.

        December 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • please think about this.

        Nope... the US spends about 5 or 6 percent of its GDP on education, and 19 percent on the defense department.

        Look it up, takes about 5 minutes to find a good source for this.

        December 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
      • eclectic1945

        The USA Milirary budget is just <5% GNP after being aound 6% GNP with 2 wars. If ypou add in all sercuriy expenses not in direct DOD mil budget, it will drive military and securiy to about 6% GNP. Total Federal, State & local education is 5.5% GDP. Also since you mentioned schools. It may be interesting to note we spend:
        $190,000 on each solider annually
        $ 16,000 on each student annually

        December 12, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
      • eclectic1945

        I used GNP & data base are::
        http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.XPD.TOTL.GD.ZS
        http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.XPD.TOTL.GD.ZS

        I agree when you look at all Military/security( Federal, States, Local Prisons, Crimanal courts etc) added into this data base amount it is the greatest line item on almost any budget I beleive we have reached the tippimng point just like on say USA built cars. Innovation brings down costs.

        December 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
      • please think about this.

        Eclectic1945, thanks for the link. It doesn't provide information about the military budget. I found that here:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States

        which tags it at about 19% of GDP in 2012 (not much less in 2013). By the way, in your link the amount spent on education was measured as a percentage of GDP, not GNP. As a percentage of GNP education spending will be somewhat lower.

        December 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  84. mbl

    To "please think about this"...the Soviets flew overflights of Alaska for decades during the Cold War, testing our radar systems, response time of our interceptors, etc. At the Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, there was a bulletin board near the PX which publicly listed the number of intercepts of Soviet aircraft each month and the year's total. We flew countless long range flights over the Soviet Union for the same purpose. Governments don't wait for a war to begin before spying, they spy for many reasons, one of which is to prevent the next one before it begins.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  85. Brocktoon

    On a related note, starting in 2015 Amazon Prime members can have their drone delivered packages sent via the RQ-180 at no additional charge.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • EswardTr

      Is that for US costumers or is the offer only good for the Afghanistan and surrounding area.

      December 12, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Reply
    • Alphapod

      Didn't see that one coming! (zing!)

      December 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  86. aj

    oh cnn how you give our secrets to the world

    December 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Reply
    • meninhitsu

      If CNN has the information, how 'secret' do you think this really was?

      December 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  87. Tom

    Hopefully Iran won't be able to catch one of these or shall we say hopefully the USA won't "let Iran capture of these" stealth plane.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Reply
    • Name*

      Interesting point of view. Our drone is really a Trojan horse. If that's the case, it was a brilliant idea.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  88. Whistleblower

    I’d be a bit more worried about the 2014 elections torpedoing your lives than some Stealthy Drone. You can’t fix stupid and he will be out in “full bloom” in 2014. He comes in various sizes, shapes, and wears an assortment of clothing, none of which are stealthy.

    He’s easily identified by the sound he makes when entering the voting booth, “Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme.” He also snickers a lot when exiting. Though he looks harmless, he’s an uneducated fool who never studied history, and is far more dangerous than any drone you can imagine. Why? He’s fully supported by the “National Media and has a pocket full of your tax money. So worry not about drones!

    December 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Reply
    • mike

      I get it, it's a tea party drone! LOL

      December 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Reply
      • ManatiDiPorci

        Duh, this drone is a liberal spy drone you freak.

        December 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  89. Kim Dung Il

    Hory Crap, a giant bat brew up my nucrear plant!

    December 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  90. please think about this.

    In all these comments, hardly any even mention the utter disregard of other countries' sovereignty. It amazes me how Americans can be so oblivious to the effects of their actions.

    Imagine if another country (take your pick – China, Albania, Mexico, Greece, I don't care) were flying drones into the United States. What would the reaction of Americans be? They would be rightly ticked off, and probably many would call for war.

    Don't call me anti-American for pointing this out. Just think about it, please.

    December 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    • Tex

      They would if the could.....and soon, they will.

      December 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Reply
      • please think about this.

        You can't claim to be spreading freedom, in that case. The rest of us didn't vote for your government, or your drones.

        Also remember that "they would if they could" is not true of all countries. I am sure that no Scandinavian country will send drones into the united states, even if they could. Nor would Germany, France, England,..... The world is not divided into Americans and enemies. However, we know now that you spy on all of us – enemies and allies. Many of us wish that you would return to the democratic values of your founding fathers, which were an inspiration to democratic movements in the 18th century.

        The world is more complex than you think. Many Americans understand and agree with what I just said.

        December 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
      • Kstar

        I agree with Tex, they would if they could. And to "please think about this" – if you think other countries aren't spying on everyone, allies and enemies alike, then you are sadly mistaken.

        December 12, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
      • Reality Biter

        Goodness gracious! So why is it that Sweden who has the technology, manpower and other resources, does not fly drones over the US? Or China? Or Saudi Arabia?

        Tex, I have been in your state for 2 weeks and I will tell you as a 4 generation American, Texas is more foreign to me than any of those countries listed above. I have never seen such a fat, ignorant, scared bunch of turkeys in my life. Above all, I have never seen such willful arrogance and lack of perspective in all my travels than what I have seen in Texas

        December 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
      • please think about this

        @Kstar: please provide evidence that Scandinavia is flying drones over the US.

        December 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  91. Desert Tortoise

    The real reason the AIr Force let AviationWeek learn about this UAV is budgetary. If you recall, the USAF has been trying to stop production of the Block 30 Global Hawk and to retire the few it already has. However several influential members of Congress in particular the Congress from Palmdale where the Global Hawk is manufactured is adding amendments to the Defense Appropriations biill to force the Air Force to buy more Global Hawks.

    By announcing the existance of the RQ-180, the USAF just showed Congress the real reason why they no longer want to buy any more Global Hawks. The money is better spent buying the RQ-180.

    December 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    • John in WNY

      You actually raise the main issue with cuts to defense spending, the cuts will be decided on not by the needs of the US military but instead by the political needs the politicians in the House and Senate.

      December 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Reply
      • Kstar

        Of course the political needs of the politicians are driven by the thousands of workers in their districts who are impacted by what assets the military buys.

        December 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  92. Bob from Accounting

    I guess the litmus test for "super-secret" is not having the picture on the home page of CNN

    December 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  93. Four Two

    Not exactly "super secret" then is it. Quit being sensationalists, CNN, it's embarrassing.

    December 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  94. Whistleblower

    Ya might want to be more concerned about the 2014 elections torpedoing your lives than some Super Stealth drone.
    "You can't fix stupid and he'll be out in 'full bloom' in 2014."
    He's also very stealthy. He comes in all sizes, shapes, wears a variety of clothing, and probably snickers a lot. However, you can identify him by the sound he makes as he enters the voting booth; "Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme."

    December 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • Jonathan

      Are you talking about Santa Claus?

      December 13, 2013 at 3:16 am | Reply
  95. John

    With the kind of security left to us by the Clinton legacy, China ought to have this thing reverse engineered and rebuilt by March, 2014.

    December 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  96. Droner

    RQ-170 was remotely highjacked by Iran. What is stopping Iran from highjacking the updated RQ-180?

    December 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • Desert Tortoise

      The RQ-170 you mention relies on a continuous data link to a satellite and a ground station. Something like this new RQ-180 and it's predecessor the Global Hawk do not. Global Hawk flies a pre-programmed fligth plan and does not rely on a ground station except for take off and landing. Otherwise it is autonomous for exactly the reason you mention.

      RQ-170 was designed to fly agianst very low tech adversaries and was never intended to be able to operatate against a peer military with up to date jamming capabilities. These kinds of UAVs are really designed to allow the US, along with it's F-22s and F-35s to find and destroy top tier air defense networks of the kind found in Russia, China and their clients that cannot be defeated by the weapons we have used in the past.

      December 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  97. joeyi

    Too much hype trust me the Russians and the Chinese will detect it easily...and probably shot it down..

    December 12, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Judge Jean Boyd of Texas

      I sincerely hope not, joeyi. I just love those drones of ours and the way they slaughter people, especially those in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, I just let a 16 year old off for drunk driving and vehicular homicide in my native Texas!!!

      December 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Reply
    • RA

      You mean try to "shoot" it down? Look up their radar detection capabilities

      December 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
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