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 (1,334 Responses)
  1. Clifton

    "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."

    Um, I don't think heat has anything to do with radar. Heat shielding and radar-confusing shapes are two different technologies.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:59 am | Reply
  2. ephemeroptera1

    This is exactly why the conspiracy folks (i.e. 9/11, Area 51, etc.) are a bunch of nuts. Our government cannot even keep this kind of stuff secret. And you think they can keep some elaborate the Jews caused 9/11 conspiracy secret?

    December 12, 2013 at 10:59 am | Reply
  3. TONE

    So much for superstealth are Americans that stupid to leak their own countries secret to the world you live and learn every day this country does not deserve freedom of speech, leakers should be shot on sight including journalists

    December 12, 2013 at 10:58 am | Reply
    • Joel

      Not to smart on how the world, well in this case, America works, hey? You don't think this was planned? You don't think the GOVERNMENT intentionally let the info out?

      My bet? It doesn't even exist. This was planned out by our government so other countries are looking towards the sky, when the real new piece of technology will bring troops/whatever up from underground. Deception at it's best.....and look, you even fell for it.

      December 13, 2013 at 1:47 am | Reply
  4. bumpinthenight

    The U.S. government is purchasing new unmanned aircraft designs on a perpetual basis. They are all composite and they are all well suited to a particular goal. This is not the coolest machine in the sky nor is it secret. Wow, look at me CNN, I just gave your readers more factual information in my opening sentence than you were able to muster in an entire article. Email me, I'll let you know where to send a check.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:57 am | Reply
  5. Tony Torres

    In the persuit of greater and more expose on our govement, our news outlets give away more and more of our country's secrets. I think this is shameful, they do not care how much information they blur out in the name of free speech. There must be something our govement can do to curtail all the leaks our news outlets reveal. I(we) didn't have to know about our secret drones. What good does it do? It sure as hell not helping us (USA). What a shame!!!

    December 12, 2013 at 10:51 am | Reply
    • [REDACTED]

      imagine what they are not showing us. this bat thing is the tip of the iceberg.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:58 am | Reply
    • rtrauben

      well said.

      December 12, 2013 at 11:06 am | Reply
  6. WELL UH

    Please write an article on something you havent talked about in days/weeks. Such as the failed OBAMACARE.and how much of an embarassment it is and how no one wants it...I need to laugh some more 🙂

    December 12, 2013 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • Tony Torres

      What the hell does the ACA law have to do with the price of tea in China? You and your ilk have a small brain and can only think of things against our POTUS. It seems that the ACA law is starting to work the way it is suppose to, you and all the idiots of course can not fathom that Obama can do what is right for our country. We all know that the ACA needs work to repair and tweek what needs to be changed. So get off your high horse and think of the millions that will eventually benifit from being able to get health coverage. You and yours would let millions suffer just because you don't want to give Obama the benefit of helping us.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:57 am | Reply
      • rtrauben


        December 12, 2013 at 11:08 am |
      • darknesscrown

        Because military people hate liberals and they think Obamacare is socialism. LOL

        December 12, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  7. WELL UH

    Why do we have CNN posting stuff like this.......why not post all of our other nations secrets? LIBERALS FOR THE WIN!!!

    December 12, 2013 at 10:49 am | Reply
  8. Greg

    Why would any reporter think this should be public knowledge? I know it has been said many times but to me this type of release of information is nearing treason. Idiots.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:45 am | Reply
    • rp1588

      This is no big deal. Anybody in the business on their side knew this was happening anyway, and there are no details.

      It does reveal an intention to maintain short notice attack capability, as opposed to just strategic surveillance done by satellites for over half a century. That was also obvious to all concerned.

      Perhaps the most important revelation is to the US public, that the US military machine is still primarily in attack mode, not defense mode. But, those capable of understanding this already know this.

      So, what this article really reveals is the designation RQ-180 and a possible IOC date. But, people who know anything know these may be lies, as the US military lies on a routine basis to the people who pay for them.

      December 12, 2013 at 11:48 am | Reply
  9. Sxboxer

    Great. Why not share with our enemies our super secret stealth plane and let them know we are spying on them. If its super secret why share with them pics and location of this craft? It's supposed to be a secret for a reason.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
  10. wealthcoaches

    How's that whole "stealth" thing working out for you guys?

    December 12, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
  11. The truth is out there

    So much for super secret.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
  12. loverpoint

    Go to the POPULAR MECHANICS SITE , they have all the latest USA technology , or at least the technology they are willing to show the public.

    The drones of tomorrow are 6X faster than predator and stealthier. Plus the USA is ahead of the world in technology on how to shoot down drones.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:40 am | Reply
  13. JJ007

    I love these types of we are touting and bragging about our ability to break all international laws and stealthily enter sovereign countries air space and gather information on their governments and citizens so we can use it to destroy them if need be...but we of course, are the good guys...we are always the good guys...god's chosen sons is who we are. We only break the laws for goodness and peace, we are like Santa Clause of the world.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:36 am | Reply
    • dc

      Are you really that naive that you don't think that every country is doing the same thing.

      December 12, 2013 at 11:03 am | Reply
  14. Gene e

    So why does CNN publish information like this. This should be protected intel.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
    • Pat Reardon

      It's not intel, it's civilian speculation. The article is not based on "an undisclosed source" so it's not leaked. It's educated guess-work, which may actually be accurate, but it's still just a guess.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:50 am | Reply
  15. StormySyndrome

    I fail to see how this drone is any different than any of the other stealth drones we or China have, The fact they are coming out with it normally means there is something else in the works now.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
  16. Dan

    While we are on the spying thingy... I'm sure the government isn't spying on everything you look at on here ha ha ha ! Recommendation, at the top , from mor from the web I noticed a headline that reads ... Killing a president has never been harder. I would not recommend clicking on sites like that , or just for an experiment, do it , and start clicking on all conspiracy theory sites and be sure to make comments . Ha ha ha . When you see a drone flying, and they do fly over regularly, I would suggest handing your cell to someone else or throw it and take off running, because you ARE an enemy of the state and terrorist

    December 12, 2013 at 10:31 am | Reply
    • Todd

      Dan I ran out of tin foil... do you think I could make it to the store and back before the drones find me for being an d-bag online?

      December 12, 2013 at 10:54 am | Reply
      • Todd

        I need the tin foil for the hats I'm trying to make... I don't want BIG BROTHER intercepting my personal & private thoughts anymore...

        December 12, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  17. Robert

    It won't be long until there is a small plastic label underneath the left wing that says "Made in China".

    December 12, 2013 at 10:30 am | Reply
    • zelskid

      Very funny.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply
  18. Truth

    The country is going bankrupt but we can still spend, spend, spend!

    December 12, 2013 at 10:30 am | Reply
    • DRS

      The middle class is going bankrupt, not the country. The top 1% are doing just fine.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:43 am | Reply
      • Todd

        Must be nice...

        December 12, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • Optimist

        So very very true.

        December 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  19. Celiazora

    It's a good thing this is "super secret"... We wouldn't want the whole world to know about it.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
  20. nibirutruth

    CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. Really??? I have posted three comments and you have blocked every one of them. Liars.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:28 am | Reply
  21. dave

    US good , N Korea bad = OK to spy on NK. I have no problem with that.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
  22. George patton

    now Islamic countries would never know what hit them.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:26 am | Reply
  23. George patton

    I hope RQ-180 is capable of carrying couple of bunker busters!!!

    December 12, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
  24. Nikolas

    So, looks like CNN is about a week late to the party.

    This story broke on sites like Aviation Week and Slash Gear and DefenseTech about 5-6 days ago. Leave the reporting to the professionals please CNN... 😉

    December 12, 2013 at 10:15 am | Reply
  25. Dan

    Just imagine someone gave you the technology to spy on your friends , family, neighbors, and coworkers. How would you use that ? Would you use it ? If not , why not ? It is out there , so everybody spy on everybody. For starters look up brickhouse security. Good luck spying and by the way, what kind of person would be willing to invade everyone's privacy

    December 12, 2013 at 10:10 am | Reply
  26. Mike in NYC

    Nothing to see here people (it IS a stealth afterall). Please keep moving.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
  27. mbane

    So CNN has exposed government secrets and admitted that this is to be used to invade other countries air space – countries that have done nothing to us but where we have an interest in controlling their resources. I wonder how we would feel if other countries were flying their drones over ours. Again, American arrogance at its best.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
    • Dan

      Nicely said !

      December 12, 2013 at 10:16 am | Reply
    • ireuel

      They can't and we can and that keeps us safe. Get reales already. it is a dangerous world and the ones with the best toys stays safe. We did not write the rules, they were written thousands of years ago. So which country would you want to have all the toys? China? Russia? Tree hugging hippies are not allowed to comment in those countries. No I don't like war, but when the toys are gone, we will be attacked ASAP. Case closed.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:19 am | Reply
    • kzooresident

      And yet another who should listen carefully to Jack Nicholson's "you can't handle the truth" rant enough times to realize that it's spot-on.
      It's truly amazing to see those who carry-on the most about "arrogant America spying on others" are exactly the same people who "went-off" about the governments failure to protect us from the 911 attacks.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:21 am | Reply
    • Overestimate

      No zippy, if you had bothered to read the article, perhaps with an unbiased eye, you would have read that the story was reported in another mag first. So CNN is simply relaying already public info.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
    • dc

      So what country in the world do you seriously believe is not spying on others.

      December 12, 2013 at 11:09 am | Reply
  28. jsbmith

    Not all drones are bad. We have drones the size of a bumblebee that can give soldiers needed medicine in the field. They are really cool. see them at

    December 12, 2013 at 10:07 am | Reply
  29. dimitrinkastaikova

    International Space Station-non redeemable-12.12.2013,10 am-Three clairvoyants from family Staikovi are making predictions-Clairvoyant profile made from skype clairvoyant mrs. Dimitrinka Staikova and daughters-Europe,Bulgaria,Varna citty.Contact on skype-dika.staikova,

    HOTTEST NEWS PREDICTIONS- The second spaceman-with meaty,lightly thick nose,begining to be bald and the third spaceman-the smallest are feeling bad,they are in very bad condition-bad news for Christmas. The fourth spaceman is crying or he has problems with the eyes. The fifth-has a headache and nervous breakdown. The sixth has very high blood preasure and tears. The spacemen will be back on the Earth fast from another Space ship.The International Space Station is non redeemable at this stage.Now-12.12.2013,10am four from the spacemen are separated from the other two-temporary.The situation is dynamic and its changing fast.

    Author-Skype Clairvoyant Dimitrinka Staikova and daughters© International Space Station-non redeemable-12.12.2013,10 am-Three clairvoyants from family Staikovi are making predictions-Clairvoyant profile made from skype clairvoyant mrs. Dimitrinka Staikova and daughters-Europe,Bulgaria,Varna citty.Contact on skype-dika.staikova,

    December 12, 2013 at 10:06 am | Reply
  30. jsbmith

    They have drones the size of bumblebees. Go to and check them out. These little bugs can give soldiers needed medicine in a combat situation. It's cool. Not all drones are bad.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:04 am | Reply
  31. dale zalewski

    I wouldn't worry too much about the media leaking the existence of this gadget. The red Chinese probably had the specifications and drawings for it a year ago.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:03 am | Reply
    • Robin

      Well yeah... They are probably building them down the street from where iPhones are made.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:09 am | Reply
  32. johnkennedy

    Way to go CNN . Just shut the hell up and stop jeopardizing our national security. We don't hear Pakistan revealing where al-Qaeda is so why tell the world we've the thing meant to protect US? Aviation and CNN some of the reason US is going backwards.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:03 am | Reply
    • get-a-clue

      You really think CNN is releasing secrets?

      December 12, 2013 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • daswalking

      Wow! Wake up dude!

      December 12, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
  33. Sean

    It really naive of some of the posters thinking that CNN and Barbara Starr actually broke a story that the US Govt didn't want released. If the government really wanted it secret then it would have still been secret. It is much more likely that this is a controlled leak to let adversaries know that they cannot hide.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:02 am | Reply
  34. Really

    OK so who remembers the drone that IRAN shot down, looks a lot like this one. So since that was blown you scrap the project, announce it to the media that you have this drone project that came out of Area 51 and you dont even need to build it... just let everyone think you have it even though you had to scrap the project because it was already shot down. They have probably already moved on to another costly top secret project. Just sayin...

    December 12, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply
    • Sean

      The animation was created by CNN, not DoD. So, they aren't modelling the animation based off of what the drone really looks like, but based it off of the drone that Iran claimed to shoot down.

      Using logic that implies Iran actually shot down a drone because a CNN animation is the same is called 'the tail wagging the dog'.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:06 am | Reply
      • Really

        I may be missing your point. I am not claiming that IRAN shot down a drone because CNN said they did and I am not saying that I believe the graphic was shown to be the real thing, I know how we use artist conceptions and graphics to show these things. More than one source mentioned the drone that was shot down by Iran. I also recall reading that Area 51, while still somewhat operational, was relocated years ago when it started to draw too much publicity. Its rumored to be under ground now. Again this could all be part of a disinformation campaign.

        December 12, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  35. Robin

    Holy ___ Batman!!

    December 12, 2013 at 9:54 am | Reply
  36. Kaneda

    Currently testing on it US citizens..

    December 12, 2013 at 9:54 am | Reply
    • I heard

      I heard if you keep your tin foil hat on, then they can't see you.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
      • OrionStyles

        Barbara said it can probably intercept cell phones, but we all know it can actually intercept your brain waves... a tinfoil hat is not a bad idea.

        December 12, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • Partisanhackshatefacts

        are you saying the government 'isn't' going to use these things here?

        please do tell

        December 12, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  37. chuck eroo

    If Cnn or any other news media know about the drone, they have been flying around for quite a long time. Common sense tells you they have been there for years. They are probably building them and upgrading them daily. Hope there are enough of them up there to keep the bad guys from harming any US citizens. More the better. Keep up the good work military people. "We the people" support you.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:53 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Another senseless comment from another mindless Tea Partier! This just goes on and on and........!

      December 12, 2013 at 10:00 am | Reply
      • Partisanhackshatefacts

        are you serious??!

        re-read the post, this is exactly the OPPOSITE of what a t-partier would say

        if you weren't so busy frothing at the mouth to make another boring, negative t-party comment you would see that


        December 12, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  38. Logic

    One would have to be extremely naive to think something like this DIDN'T exist. Given what we know about our stealth fighters/bombers (manned) and the extensive use of drones in conventional roles, it seems pretty obvious there would be a stealth drone.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:53 am | Reply
    • Mike F

      That, and it would be pretty safe to assume that if they say it will be ready by 2015, that it is in use already.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:23 am | Reply
  39. Kenman

    Great, telling our adversaries exactly what we have, has THIS "mainstream" media ever been more irresponsible? And, since China has been hacking our computer systems, including our military and government systems, and stealing our "secrets" for years, I suspect that they have it, or will soon; but we won't know from THEIR media!

    December 12, 2013 at 9:51 am | Reply
  40. Shure

    LOL! TOP SECRET right! you will see a picture of this drone in an IRAN hanger.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
  41. Rick

    Does the drone have " ACME " written on its side ? `Meep Meep `

    December 12, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
  42. Sarah

    Barbara you are an idiot and should be shot. This is no different than someone leaking "top secret govt information" and having to seek refuge in Russia... Media or not – If it supposed to be top secret why on earth would CNN post this crap on the WWW for all to see?...I bet 98% of your information and "sources" can't even back up most of what you say.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      You say shot for an article about article in Aviation Week and Space Technology Magazine? Interesting.
      She only tried to make you proud and boost your American arrogance once again: so stop worrying – its all hype, crap and whatever propaganda is usually made of!

      December 12, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply
    • Erick Holmes

      I agree. There's a reason it's classifed. The last thing we need is Chin or North Korea to learn how to hack it and use it for there own needs. And I'm sure they have a way to hack into the drones computers. Stuff like this should not be revealed to the public.

      December 12, 2013 at 10:02 am | Reply
  43. MIKE

    In the military, if you divulge a secret you get court martialed and sent to jail. In the dark resources of our print and digital media, you get a Pulitzer Prize. Go figure.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:45 am | Reply
  44. Jim

    If it worked we would not know about it.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:44 am | Reply
  45. Tony

    Shhhh....don't tell nobody!

    December 12, 2013 at 9:41 am | Reply
  46. jrcomo35713

    Just tell them that you are "spying" on them...whats the use. Do we really need to know these supposed secrets. All this does is give a country motivation to copy what you are doing by any means necessary, even if taking lives is involved. Just shut up already and let them do their jobs mainly to protect you.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • racman2008

      Agreed. It's too bad the media in general lives day to day, FAILING to see the big picture here. Thank you so much for jeopardizing our national security!

      December 12, 2013 at 9:51 am | Reply
    • Greg

      The one bright spot that may come out of this ignominy will be that other countries catch up and neutralize our monopoly on these ignominious weapons. This money could be far better spent on medical research again a host of hopeless diseases like Alzheimer's and ALS! The problem here is that too many people in Congress are getting kickbacks from this unnecessary military spending!

      December 12, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply
  47. dnokc

    Coming to a neighborhood near you soon! For your own protection of course.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
  48. Dick Cheney

    You guys, you guys, we let CNN know about it because we already have something better!!! I'll give you a hint!!! Remember when you were a kid digging a hole and you use to say man that's deep, keep going and you'll be in China...Well our new drone is really the Gopher from Caddyshack.....!!!

    December 12, 2013 at 9:34 am | Reply
  49. Craig

    Way to go CNN! Let's further publicize super secret technology to let our enemies know what we're doing!

    December 12, 2013 at 9:31 am | Reply
    • Sarah

      Seriously, we are our own worst enemy.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:43 am | Reply
    • Craig_is_an_Idiot

      You are a moron. Anything the government shows CNN is already outdated.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply
  50. 1olegrandfather

    What is it with the media? Why does it have to broadcast our Gov'ts secrets, especially who is spying on who, troop movements, weapons, etc. When Ben Lauden was taken out, the media was went on and on showing what was supposidly a new stealth helicopter, then we had the recent up roar about our Gov't spying on friendly nations. And then we had the moron who disclosed troop movements which cost the lives of our servicemen.

    This goes to show there is no ethics or morals practiced by the media. From where I set, including revealing a Steath Drone, should be considered treason. All these things are needed to keep our Nation and Americans Safe, but for the media it is all about money and notoriety.

    Until we prosecute these idiots for treason and ban them from American soil, or put them to death when what they divulge the U.S. and its citizens will never be safe. Ethics in Journalism has become an oxymoron.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:30 am | Reply
  51. HIlbilly

    Spy vs. Spy

    December 12, 2013 at 9:27 am | Reply
  52. dale zalewski

    "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."

    What?! Since when do radars 'see' heat? Radars see reflected energy in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Infrared energy associated with heat has a wavelength too short for detection by radar; there are infrared sensors that can pick it up but these are NOT radar.

    You folks need a new copy editor.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:21 am | Reply
    • Chris

      Apparently it the drone is also able to violate the laws of thermodynamics. If it was that well insulated the heat would stay inside and after a few hours it would be hundreds of degrees in there.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:35 am | Reply
    • thatguy

      Semantics. yes, you are correct about the definition of radar, but to the majority of the population, radar means remote detection methods using a variety of sensors; and I believe any "radar station" would be equipped with a variety of sensors anyway, and is used for simplicity, be it sonar, radar, lidar, etc.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:36 am | Reply
  53. allenwoll

    BOO !

    December 12, 2013 at 9:21 am | Reply
  54. E. D. Tune

    Tell me more about this 'heat seeking RADAR', Barbara! That we can make something stealth is old hat but that heat seeking RADAR is intriguing!

    December 12, 2013 at 9:19 am | Reply
  55. CaughtThis

    The main point, I noticed, is the statement about being able to monitor phone calls.

    Telephone (commercial) frequencies are sold to companies, controlled by the issing governments, and operate within very strict boundries. That makes them easy to monitor. Militaries, around the worls, use varying bands and frequency jumping. A single transmission can cross millions of bands and change between transmissions. Military transmissions are, therefore, not on mobile phone channels.

    The phone monitoring is to keep tabs on civilians.

    Just a not to "citizens".

    December 12, 2013 at 9:18 am | Reply
    • mainesrd

      What do you think the average terrorist uses to communicate with?

      December 12, 2013 at 9:37 am | Reply
  56. LoyalJ

    Thanks Aviation Week and CNN for educating the bad guys....with the likes of you America doesn't need to worry about the enemies beyond our borders, you keep undermining the national security efforts just fine (rolling eyes in anger)

    December 12, 2013 at 9:17 am | Reply
  57. 2L

    If it's super secret, how did CNN find out?

    December 12, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply
    • Won

      Apparently DoD want to boost about it, their funereal.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply
    • timverba

      The headline is misleading. The existence of the plane is not a secret. The secret relies on a plane that can conduct surveillance and gather intelligence without being detected by its target.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply
  58. Badfinger

    China will have a Copy of this Drone by this Spring 🙂

    December 12, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply
    • Bill Davis

      We copied it from China, silly boy

      December 12, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply
  59. Scott

    The only problem is that the Chinese have developed away to detect our stealth aircraft. So it is not going to be cutting edge long once China provides those means to Iran and NK. The Chinese can bounce radar off civilian aircraft and search for air displacement around the civilian aircraft. Though not able to lock on entirely, they can "see" it. Then it is a matter of manually shooting it down. Same goes as a means of not allowing our radar air-to-surface missles a target to lock on.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply
    • Dan Reynolds

      Read about that in the book "Shadows Of Steel" by Dale Brown back in 1996.
      By the time it's in Aviation Week or the other such mags you KNOW the Russians and Chinese are aware of it.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:25 am | Reply
  60. lex

    And what happens what something happens to the drone and its captured by the bad guys? Is there a self-destruct mechanism that will actually work?

    There was never any US media or congressional follow-up when Iran captured a stealth US drone. Perhaps that's why Obama is slowly but surely surrendering to Iran as a nuclear power.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:15 am | Reply
  61. Simia Cillus

    Technology is incremental. It will always get better and better. Your computers, your phones, tv are not the same you had 15 years back. Air defenses will also improve. The real catch is not to forget the basics, so we are not caught unawares, when our adversaries use rudimentary technology to hurt us.

    December 12, 2013 at 9:02 am | Reply
    • Scott

      Like the Serbs did in Bosnia and Kosovo. We kept targeting the same bombed out armor 9-10 times. They would just tow the hulk around each night. And also use barrels of oil to fool our heat seeking munitions.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:19 am | Reply
  62. phil_177

    if cnn knows about it, it ain't so secret anymore ... let the world know about it – cnn made another $1.00/$2.98 ...

    December 12, 2013 at 9:01 am | Reply
    • Jon Peter

      If information has been leaked, most likely it is 2 generatiosn behind current and still secret technology.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:13 am | Reply
    • Ester7

      Compared to Snowden, this revelation by Aviation Week would seem to be much more damaging to the real security of the U.S. (As opposed to just embarrassing.)

      December 12, 2013 at 9:17 am | Reply
  63. In Vermont

    When does the NSA get their fleet?

    December 12, 2013 at 9:00 am | Reply
    • phil_177

      Marvel Comics ...

      December 12, 2013 at 9:03 am | Reply
    • Phil in KC

      I'm sure you're making a reference to the recent domestic spying scandal. But who do you think does most of the intelligence gathering internationally – against our foes? NSA – that's who. While they have no doubt overstepped their bounds domestically, you REALLY want them out there doing their thing against the bad guys. They're at work 24×7 keeping track of the bad guys and what they're up to. Without them doing what they do, we would be at a distinct disadvantage.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:38 am | Reply
      • Phil in KC

        Let me clarify – by "bad guys", I'm referring to our international foes.

        December 12, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  64. Random

    china – we have a stealth drone.
    Russia – you copied ours
    US – you both copied ours.


    December 12, 2013 at 8:59 am | Reply
    • Richard Parker

      If you have studied the history of China and India, the West has copied everything since the time of Newton the so called western scientist.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:07 am | Reply
    • Simia Cillus

      It takes basic understanding of math and science and a production facility to back it. Eventhough, the understanding existed, many of the countries lack the production capability. Now they have it too.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:08 am | Reply
    • Bruce Wayne

      Batman – all three of you copied mine

      December 12, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
  65. Furball

    Here's a tip – if it's on CNN, it's not a secret

    December 12, 2013 at 8:54 am | Reply
    • Scott Deaver

      Sure it is – CNN so slants and screws up the facts that reality and their interpretation of it are unrecognizable when sitting side-by-side. And, CNN censors participation in these comments section by anyone who thinks differently than they do, so no one will be able to ask questions that could glean anything more accurate. Incompetent disinformation is the best kind in the spy world, and CNN is NSA's employee of the year in that regard.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:11 am | Reply
      • Dan Reynolds

        The late Tom Clancy posited that CNN and the CIA shared many personnel (same skill set), with the primary difference being that CNN pays better; the reports to the POTUS being very similar to what you and I see except for more detail.

        December 12, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  66. Someone New

    So what I'm getting from these comments here is that we really like our freedoms to be able to criticize things like this and voice our opinions. Guess like this and the people to operate/maintain it are often necessary to secure those freedoms. It sucks that that's the way it is, but it's the way it is. Have some respect for the people that fight to allow you to have these little tantrums.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:47 am | Reply
    • t2vodka

      These little tantrums are thrown because our millitary is to defend our country, yet we use it to defend other countries that aren't even our allies and to start illegal wars. Our millitary men and women should not be dieing for other countries.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:05 am | Reply
      • Puranappu

        i AGREE .oUR MILITARY SHOULD BE HERE, building bridges (there are 30000 of disrepair),roads, canals.
        For THIS country.

        December 12, 2013 at 9:08 am |
      • Phil in KC

        While I agree that the basis for our entry into Iraq was false and we should have pursued other avenues, Afghanistan is a totally different situation. We are there because that's where the Taliban and Al Qaeda were hiding out – and they attacked us first – or have you forgotten?

        December 12, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • Phil in KC

        @Puranappu – the Army does not exist to build bridges. They are not (for the most part) civil engineers and we don't pay them to be a construction crew. That is not their purpose, nor should it be. Now – if you're arguing that we should take the money spent on the military and spend it on our infrastructure, that is a different discussion. I will agree with you that our infrastructure is crumbling and needs attention.

        December 12, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Jeff

      Well said. I am not a fan of armed drones buzzing around other nations while killing "suspects," because that sets a terrible precedent and probably creates more enemies than it neutralizes. I am, however, very much in favor of gathering information to learn about potential threats so that we can accurately evaluate them and, if necessary, prepare to defend against them. Freedom is often the first casualty of war, fear caused by misunderstanding is what most often leads to war, so gathering information that helps us to better understand situations is one of the best ways to avoid war while protecting our freedom.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:06 am | Reply
  67. CIA

    You mean Aviation Leak and Space Technology. 🙂

    December 12, 2013 at 8:47 am | Reply
    • Random

      Here is hoping we get to learn about more tech soon. 😉

      December 12, 2013 at 9:00 am | Reply
  68. Thetruthiseasilyfound

    "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."

    Nice fact-checking CNN. Radar does not detect heat. It detects the reflected microwave transmissions of a Radar transmitter.

    Journalism FAIL.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:45 am | Reply
    • Random

      So once your craft is invisable to radar, the next tech to try is heat , infrared, basically they are just telling you both issues are handled. (armchair expert fail)

      December 12, 2013 at 9:01 am | Reply
    • LOL

      Maybe they've read "microwave" on Wikipedia and they stopped there "Aha, heat"...

      December 12, 2013 at 9:09 am | Reply
    • Cartman

      I was just ready to make the same comment.
      Maybe it is so stealthy that it confused the two "long time experts in classified military stealth technology" who think radar can detect heat signatures.
      Or maybe those two experts just sit in their basement, watch X Files and Fringe reruns and "blog" about stuff they don't know.
      It makes CNN look bad when they quote so called experts who are wrong about basic information.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:52 am | Reply
  69. Puranappu

    Wow! Amazing technology.

    This is great day for democracy.So in other words, just because WE CAN and THEY(those who cannot) are vulnerable, we will use these technologies to violate the borders of sovereign states at will. How soon will these be used to monitor the masses in the US? or even our allies (like Canada,Brazil,Turkey, and G8/G20 lol!) Thanks Snowden.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply
    • Phil in KC

      This is nothing new. We have been spying on our enemies forever (remember Nathan Hale?). We've flown over their countries in U2's and SR71s. We've eavesdropped on their communications. We've planted bugs. We've infiltrated and planted spies within their organizations. And so on and so forth. This is just the latest technology that allows us to do so. It keeps tabs on those who wish us ill and it puts no one immediately in harm's way. I'm all for it.

      December 12, 2013 at 11:22 am | Reply
  70. Badly-Bent

    The inverted shark!

    December 12, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply
  71. MightyMoo

    "Super-secret stealth drone exposed!"

    They really need to put more intellgicence in to these drones. Doing photo shoots on Play Drone Magazine isn't good for national security.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply
  72. Matt

    Does CNN know Iran, North Korea, etc know how to read? It's a cool story but now that they know about it, they'll be looking for it.. we've given them a goal to "shoot for"

    December 12, 2013 at 8:42 am | Reply
  73. farsical nation

    But does it catch mosquitos?

    December 12, 2013 at 8:32 am | Reply
  74. jayb18

    Thanks for telling the world CNN.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:32 am | Reply
    • Stephie

      I was thinking the same thing-LOL Not so super-secret anymore is it?????

      December 12, 2013 at 8:44 am | Reply
  75. Me

    I hope they are smart enough to put a self destruct mechanism on there in case it crash lands in hostile territory

    December 12, 2013 at 8:29 am | Reply
  76. secretdick

    It's so super secret that it's on CNN.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:28 am | Reply
    • Jason

      ^^ This is why there needs to be a 'like' button!

      December 12, 2013 at 8:42 am | Reply
  77. Julian Assange

    We will see how stealth it is when the first one is shot down by enemy AA missiles...
    Iranians have already demonstrated they can hack technology Americans believed where impregnable...
    Soon Americans will learn, for their frustration, they are FAR from exceptional!

    December 12, 2013 at 8:27 am | Reply
    • biggerdawg

      We'll bring the drone. You bring whatever. Say hi to Satan.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:35 am | Reply
  78. RDH

    Who is the terrorists again?

    December 12, 2013 at 8:21 am | Reply
    • Me

      Potentially any country that is not the US

      December 12, 2013 at 8:27 am | Reply
    • Bob

      Now let's get to really important stuff. How do we get CNN to stop this Amazon Kindle add that keeps moving the darn homepage while I am trying to click on articles!! Those moving adds kill me and I will never buy a product they are advertising because of the moving add. When will advertisers realize they are annoying as he11. Please spread the word and write CNN......By the way, the drone is probably at DPG in Utah.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:31 am | Reply
    • farsical nation

      "who am" the terrorists....

      December 12, 2013 at 8:34 am | Reply
    • Danram

      Right, because everyone knows that flying over a country at 11 miles up while taking pictures is the same thing as blowing up a busload of people with a bomb.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:42 am | Reply
  79. jimd

    It looks cool. Can I get one at hobbyking?

    December 12, 2013 at 8:16 am | Reply
  80. Matt Stockton

    If it stays up for more than 24 hrs see your doctor immediately.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:16 am | Reply
  81. callmecrazy

    If they are letting this information leak out now, that means they've had it for ten years and probably have something better to replace it.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:10 am | Reply
    • Jim


      December 12, 2013 at 8:29 am | Reply
  82. theostein

    If I had a stealth drone, that I am going to use to spy, why am I revealing it to the world?

    December 12, 2013 at 8:08 am | Reply
    • Scott B

      Because some journalists value the notoriety more than they value American national security and American lives. Not only does our military have to fight foriegn spies, they have to defend against American ones as well.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:22 am | Reply
      • R Lund

        This is an example of where the freedom of speech crosses over into "treason". National security should be held tight by ALL citizens of the USA or we risk our brother's and sister's lives. All for a news story... ridiculous!

        Remember when the NY Times published a leaked report by someone at the Pentagon of exactly how the US was about to invade Iraq? The Editor should have been hung!

        December 12, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Chino Bandido

      ...So that every guy named Kim Chee Jong and Roto Rooter Rouhani will bankrupt their treasury trying to catch up or build a better slingshot to bring the thing down... The Russkies learned THAT the hard way. Nobody reads Machiavelli anymore. Tough Luck to the rest of these goomers.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:56 am | Reply
  83. doakes

    C.I.A or any ´one else has never been in Iran they tried once with the most advanced drone,and the iranien captured it very easy. I bet 1000000000 dollar That the iranians will capture next drone too. One thing good to learn is not to underestimate your enemy. Iran is on red alert 24hours.

    December 12, 2013 at 8:03 am | Reply
    • Zumba

      Iran wasn't even able to protect it's scientists from being murdered. Youu'd thiink that they wouuld realize that every component of their nuclear program is a potential target and that includes the people working on it. If they can't protect them they aren't going to be able to protect their whole airpsace.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:26 am | Reply
  84. Jessica McGwin

    Well it is not a secret anymore. I wounder if EpiTech did the infra- red on this high tech toy? If so I can assure you absolutely nothing we gain from this tech will be secret. But OK

    December 12, 2013 at 8:02 am | Reply
  85. Organic1

    To all of you worms that think this is not necessary – You will be the first ones to complain and condemn after being attacked again for the government not knowing or stopping the assault, you do not get to have it both ways. Being stup id is not required but appears that some of you have it mastered..

    December 12, 2013 at 8:00 am | Reply
    • Burt

      Really? They'll be the first? You didn't jump on that bandwagon? You wouldn't complain? I find that hard to believe. Move along people Organic1 is just another loser to be ignored.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:29 am | Reply
  86. Ben

    So wait, this is more deserving of budgetary money than exploring space?

    December 12, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • Dean

      Yes, it addresses a more immediate threat.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:03 am | Reply
      • David

        No it doesn't.

        December 12, 2013 at 8:39 am |
      • FL Native

        Correct. This technology, though initially developed for military applications, usually ends up contributing much more to peace-time uses. While space exploration is important, the exploration and study of our planet is of primary importance.

        December 12, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  87. DC Observer

    It's the return of Batman

    December 12, 2013 at 7:56 am | Reply
  88. JT

    More disgusting waste but it beats the heck out of starting wars and killing innocent human beings at a cost in the trillions. But then again how is the disgusting cancer, GOP, going to get elected now with no wars?

    December 12, 2013 at 7:54 am | Reply
    • wilf

      IT SAYS IT GOES BEHIND ENIMY LINE'S. Im sure they will start a war just to test it out

      December 12, 2013 at 8:05 am | Reply
  89. DC Observer

    This story sounds like a purposeful leak about something that does not exist

    December 12, 2013 at 7:53 am | Reply
    • Sparky

      The SR-71 was designed in 1956 professor. Nah, stealth drones couldn't possibly exist

      December 12, 2013 at 7:55 am | Reply
      • Coco

        To me that is the best looking airplane ever made. And the fact it was put into service in 1966 (or so the rumor goes) is so impressive.

        December 12, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  90. Dave

    I hope it has a self destruct sequence should contact ever be lost over enemy territory.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:53 am | Reply
    • Sparky

      They do, it's called gravity brainiac

      December 12, 2013 at 7:54 am | Reply
  91. JD

    We always like to tell other countries what kind of tools we have to spy on them. That makes it a scecret!

    December 12, 2013 at 7:52 am | Reply
  92. Saleem

    Breaching another nation's border with military hardware is an Act of War and a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:43 am | Reply
    • Dave

      Richard Marcinko said it best...we can worry about the Geneva Convention when we go to war with the Swiss.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:51 am | Reply
      • Sparky

        I seen loudmouth "Demo Dick" slobbering in his Vodka at Bennigans in Fayetteville NC in 92 after he got out of jail.

        December 12, 2013 at 7:59 am |
    • George patton

      Quite true Saleem, quite true indeed!

      December 12, 2013 at 7:53 am | Reply
    • DC Observer

      So is blowing up US embassies; killing US soldiers; and kidnapping Americans, hijacking ships, and terrorism in general. So, what's your point? With the broad scope of Al Qaeda the US has been in a de facto war everywhere on the planet for the past 10 years.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:55 am | Reply
      • wilf

        very true America is succeeding at doing what Hitler could only hope for

        December 12, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Chuk

      Not if you're the United States because the rules don't apply to them. It's the "only poor people pay taxes" syndrome. The incredible thing is they build all these weapons and expect no one else will. Or they want their friends to build and own weapons but no one else should. This is the "do as I say, not as I do" syndrome.
      For a country that's supposedly smart, this is baffling. The fact is, the leaders of the world should be putting much effort in de-escalating deadly weaponry because we have to many already, not escalating by trying to outdo one another. Where are we headed with this? And if the US thinks it should lead the world, and this is how it's doing it, then I'm not impressed.
      The fact is that the days of leading by intimation is over. This is awful because all it takes to set off this tinder box of weaponry is not much and well suffer for it. There has to be some common sense somewhere.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:56 am | Reply
      • zoolife

        Thanks for sharing your observations. I get the feeling fewer and fewer people are seeing things clearly anymore.

        December 12, 2013 at 8:38 am |
      • Someone New

        Hold this the "only the poor pay taxes" syndrome or the "do as I say, not as I do" syndrome? Gosh, I can never keep those straight....

        December 12, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Greg

      Killing innocent women and children, hiding in schools and churches, fighting without wearing a uniform, building IEDs to indiscriminately kill are all also violations of the Geneva Convention. I think the addage "It is easier to ask for foregiveness, than permission" is applicable here.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • wilf

      Like drones attacking Pakistan. seems when you are one of the bullies you don' realy obey the law

      December 12, 2013 at 8:19 am | Reply
      • Proudvet

        Wasn't Bin Laden hiding in Pakistan?

        December 12, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Meyer C. Dhoates

      Saleem, flying airplanes into buildings is an Act of War. Since you Muslims skulk behind women's Abaya's while using children to carry out your terrorist bombings, flying above your countries to target terrorist leaders is fair game. Look!!! Up in the sky!!! Is it a bird? Is it an airplane? No, it is a Hellfire missle coming to send you to Allah and your 70 virgins.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:55 am | Reply
  93. Evervigilant

    With the X-37's likely ability to place a spy satellite in orbit anywhere quickly and allow it to be moved as needed, or carry a strike package to orbit, and this stealth drone, the air force has already redefined the battlefield of tomorrow.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:43 am | Reply
  94. George patton

    Here we go again! This is where our hard earned tax dollars go. Just think of the same money being spent on research for Alzheimer's disease which would be far more beneficial for all of us since no one is safe from this horrific disease. This article further shows just how greed and corruption reigns in Washington D.C. while millions more contract this terrible disease, robbing them of their golden years!!!

    December 12, 2013 at 7:39 am | Reply
    • James

      If you give them a few minutes they'll forget about it.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:51 am | Reply
      • Judas Priest

        I'm so looking forward to your children helplessly watching your mind and body rot in a nursing home. But give you a few minutes and you'll forget about it.

        December 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Sparky

      Yeah, let's divert all our military spending to AD just for Francis Patton

      December 12, 2013 at 7:57 am | Reply
    • Murray Henley

      Alzheimer's disease research is certainily a worthy cause. There is one surprising thing one can do to prevent it, though, and it flies in the face of current medical orthodoxy.

      Recommended reading: Alzheimer's Solved: Condensed Edition, by Henry Lorin. Look for it on Amazon. Readers' comments will give you an idea of the book's contents.

      All I can tell is that I found this book convincing.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:27 am | Reply
      • Judas Priest

        I would like to see some studies done of this hypothesis, particularly since most of the generation that's currently suffering from Alzheimer's had diets which were quite high in cholesterol.

        December 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  95. North Korean

    Thanks for the heads up CNN!

    December 12, 2013 at 7:37 am | Reply
  96. Michael

    If the program is so classified, why are these people talking about it? Why are they still free on the streets? Why and how do these morons know anything about it? Or is this another "Ancient Aliens" episode?

    December 12, 2013 at 7:37 am | Reply
    • Greg

      Sometimes, these leaks are on purpose. Just think how much money and effort the enemy would have to invest on countermeasures. If we have a few "unique" weapons at our disposal, it gives us leverage.

      December 12, 2013 at 8:03 am | Reply
  97. ImvotingforHillary

    Looks good.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:33 am | Reply
    • George patton

      You're evidently some kind of hillbilly Tea Partier from the South. Only a fool would now vote for Hillary Clinton since she showed her right-wing fanaticism during the last four years, exhibiting her arrogance and self righteousness plus her lack of concern for human life!!!

      December 12, 2013 at 7:45 am | Reply
      • Mark

        Take a breath George, the poster just said the drone looks good. Tea Partiers are not big on Hillary anyway.

        December 12, 2013 at 7:54 am |
      • Sparky

        Yeah, lighten up Francis

        December 12, 2013 at 7:56 am |
      • Hahahaha

        Sweetie if that's what Hillary Clinton has turned out to be and those are her true political stripes then I will vote for her. That means she's the perfect choice to get lazy citizens off the taxpayers teat. Let her turn the government back into what it should be...a vessel to negotiate treaties, provide security for the borders (you know...defense). Get the government out of the welfare business. Make people responsible for their own business. If people need handouts to survive let their own families take care of them. ::rolls eyes::

        December 12, 2013 at 8:02 am |
      • nue

        And we have a new record holder for the most idiotic statements in a single post. George, would you like to make any additional stupid comments while accepting this honor??

        December 12, 2013 at 9:36 am |
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