Warplanes: Mystery UAV Caught On Camera In Afghanistan

Archives

December 4, 2009: Last April, an unidentified, jet propelled UAV was spotted operating from the American airbase in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Now there's a picture. While some have speculated that it is one of the secret American UAV projects, it's also similar to the French designed nEUROn Demonstrator, a six ton, jet powered combat and reconnaissance UAV. But this aircraft is still in development, and is not expected to make its first flight for another two years.
 
After the photos of the UAV had been all over the Internet for a few days, The U.S. Air Force admitted that the UAV was theirs and described it as an unarmed RQ-170. But they would not reveal anything else, apparently wishing to keep the projects partly secret, for as long as possible.

The Kandahar UAV is a flying wing design, similar to the X-45s and X-47s built as development aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. These UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) were built to carry weapons, and the one spotted in Afghanistan may have a bomb bay as well. The U.S. Air Forces X-45A combat UAV (UCAV) dropped its first smart bomb in 2004. There are also purely reconnaissance jet powered UAVs built, in secret, as experimental vehicles.

Why test such a UAV in Afghanistan? For one thing, it could see how well the aircraft does under combat conditions, against an elusive foe. Another reason might be to test the stealth by flying it over China (which shares a short border with Afghanistan), or, more likely, Iran (which is close to Kandahar).

The U.S. has been flying UAVs like this for over six years. This design has been tested using in-flight refueling, formation flying and landing on a land based mockup of an aircraft carrier deck.

 


Article Archive

Warplanes: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close