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.
This just shows how the libs are war mongers...
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.
only people who live live and die people that die do not live
why the hell would you unveil this to the world....now the enemies know our capabilities thank you social media!!
Congress is treasoness
Oh wow, I have no idea what that word means, but it sounds bad.
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.
The "white" house threatens citiens as often as they F-up...
Still have not closed GITMO...because the Military controls it.
Politicos in the US are Military...
the US Military is treasoness...
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.
I fully agree!!
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.
Go AIR FORCE!
Everybody else is just trying to catch up!
I was told that if it stays up for 4 hours I should seek immediate medical attention.
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.
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.
I guess it isn't a double secret spy plane anymore eh?
It is a modified Northrop-Grumman X-47B.
Obama (military) aproves of his own work...
be careful those moose can't defend themselfs...
do those Moose carry chopsticks or the "Ginsue" knife
Not theirs Yours ($).
Soon to be not appearing in a community near you.
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).
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
ever hear of Nixon
the US layed down on China in 1970's
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...
You already told Congress what too do today there is no hope.
How do you 'reveal' something without an actual picture?
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?
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...
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.
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.
do anything today that made any difference to anyone anywhere if so where...Your answer Uhm...China...wait...Uhm duh....
Obama to Enemy States please please Enemy States please come to America and enslave it just like you want too....
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...
Its all slight of hand the public sChool are fored to teach what the Military demands...
how many chinamen do you know who say there name is Mike...but its not...
its called buisness travel...
" 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.
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!
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.
Relax, this is disinformation.
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.
They are operating in U.S. air space dummy.
How could that be otherwise if it's based in New Mexico?
How would Americans act if North Korea, China and Iran were conducting "operations" in their air space?
The NRA would declare open season!
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.
They are feeling pressed to silence the press...
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.
Barbara Starr: Mouthpiece of Murder.
I ment $ and religon.
They don't teach that in school...
The military is more than 50 percent of all "jobs"...problem is they are not Jobs...
Just like the NSA activities.............. it's all out there, you just gotta know what open source material to look for.
Everything the US does is making the world a worse place.
Absolutely true. How long until we awaken?
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.
Education is used to control people.
Oh yes, the lack of it leaves people ignorant and easily lead by those who are educated.
If you actually learn how to learn Education liberates.
"A little ganja goes a long way." too imprison Americans.
The newest latest profit: (-N-S-A-) writes: The Military knows and cares to silence you."
The newest latest profit?? Did you by any chance mean prophet???
If you see it here, you can bet the Chinese already have it.
I'd rather spend money on a drone then spend money on a drone
I guess we owe the DoD our thanks for placing the U.S. on top of the defense heap once again.
You don't protect military lives.
Waste of money – more bloated government spending.
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.
Once you have experience war first hand, anything that saves American soldiers lives is fine with me...
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...
The Worldbank is Military.
A little ganja goes a long way.
you donot protect the "home"land but you do fly drones over "it".
You can't get out of war only get in more wars.
You Spend 1 million dollars on a troop each year and all the rest of your numbers are complete and total lies.
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.
I missed one crucial piece of information. It was written by Barbara Starr.... wooops, I completely understand now. Ignore my rant.
I"M PICKING UP MOOSES ON THE RADAR
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.
We didn't already have them? What are they spending those trillions of dollars on? We should have drones that never have to land.
So new that one crashed in Pakistan 3 years ago... The pictures were on this very site...
Way to keep Tup Secrets SECRET, CNN!!
Completely different drone. Looks similar, sorta.
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.
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?
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!
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.
Could they put a batman symbol on it.
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.
Our government. Its a secret. So they put it on youtube.
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?"
secret as in classified. don't get your pants so twisted.
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
"Although it’s not confirmed, the magazine suggested the drone could be operating as soon as 2015." "The drone has been operational since 2011."
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.
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." – Thomas Jefferson
Define vigilance,because what we have here is internal ignorance.
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.
I sound hitleresque,what,is,forcing sharia law.
"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.
You aren't up on the latest radar tech are you?
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.
Advanced radar operates detecting submillimeter emr, heat is slightly >700 nanometer emr,
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.
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.
Since when did infrared fall off of the electromagnetic spectrum? Joe, infrared and radio waves are both light waves.
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.
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.
Which indirectly proves that Iran has no detectable clandestine Nuke program, because if they did, this technology would proves it, and it hasn't.
Mike...read the article, then you won't make a fool of yourself....the drone comes out 2015....
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.
If this comes out now, that means that this is about 3-4 generations behind the latest.
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!
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.
What the heck does this have to do with your agenda?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I used GNP & data base are::
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.
Eclectic1945, thanks for the link. It doesn't provide information about the military budget. I found that here:
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.
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.
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.
Is that for US costumers or is the offer only good for the Afghanistan and surrounding area.
Didn't see that one coming! (zing!)
oh cnn how you give our secrets to the world
If CNN has the information, how 'secret' do you think this really was?
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.
Interesting point of view. Our drone is really a Trojan horse. If that's the case, it was a brilliant idea.
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!
I get it, it's a tea party drone! LOL
Duh, this drone is a liberal spy drone you freak.
Hory Crap, a giant bat brew up my nucrear plant!
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.
They would if the could.....and soon, they will.
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.
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.
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
@Kstar: please provide evidence that Scandinavia is flying drones over the US.
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.
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.
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.
I guess the litmus test for "super-secret" is not having the picture on the home page of CNN
Not exactly "super secret" then is it. Quit being sensationalists, CNN, it's embarrassing.
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."
Are you talking about Santa Claus?
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.
RQ-170 was remotely highjacked by Iran. What is stopping Iran from highjacking the updated RQ-180?
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.
Too much hype trust me the Russians and the Chinese will detect it easily...and probably shot it down..
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!!!
You mean try to "shoot" it down? Look up their radar detection capabilities