RQ-180 Stealth Drone Shows Up in Air Force Video

November 19, 2021 Topic: Drones Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: DronesRQ-180U.S. Air ForceNorthrop GrummanArea 51

RQ-180 Stealth Drone Shows Up in Air Force Video

According to the War Zone there’s no way that was a coincidence.

One of the more mysterious aircrafts the U.S. military has in the works is what’s sometimes referred to as the RQ-180, a drone in development from Northrop Grumman, although that number is not the official designation.

The Dreamland Resort website reported recently that the RQ-180 appeared to have been spotted over Area 51 in Nevada.

“A friend who wishes to remain anonymous and I were at the Groom Lake Road gate yesterday,” that site wrote. “I heard a faint aircraft noise and noticed a contrail straight above us, inside the Area 51 restricted airspace, heading roughly SSW. Through my IS [image stabilized] binoculars, I first thought I was looking at a B-2 until I realized it had a POINTED tail. The B-2 has a serrated tail. My friend took the enclosed photo (two enhanced versions superimposed). It is clearly a twin-engine aircraft.” 

Now, per the War Zone, the RQ-180 has been referenced in an official Air Force video.

The video, titled “Heritage Today,” includes a reference to “White Bats,” which is a nickname for the RQ-180.

"The days of balloons and biplanes have been replaced by white bats,” the video says.

“This is certainly a placeholder design as they would not be showing off the real thing that remains classified,” the War Zone said. “Furthermore, it doesn't match the platform of the aircraft we have seen in the air. That's not to say that there is only one HALE stealthy flying-wing drone configuration flying these days, but that is another story. China is also pursuing a similar design under the CH-7 'Rainbow' designation.”

The War Zone appeared to conclude that there’s no way that was a coincidence.

“The ‘white bat’ reference has no place in ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) parlance outside of the RQ-180,” the site said. “Not only does this fit the physical description of the stealth drone we have seen now repeatedly, but its own nickname and its associated unit iconography supposedly directly reference this.”

Aviation Week has reported that the drone is known around Edwards Air Force Base as  “Great White Bat,” and also “Shikaka.” The latter appears to be a reference to a fictional white bat, from the Jim Carrey 1990s movie Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.

“The ‘white bat’ symbol also has appeared as the badge for the 74th Reconnaissance Squadron,” Aviation Week said. “The unit is thought to have become a training squadron for the RQ-180. It is understood to have been established earlier this year, following the 2018 activation of Detachment 5 of the 9th Operations Group at Beale AFB (Air Force Base), California.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Wikimedia Commons