> our title:

RQ-180 Stealthy ISR Drone Already in Service: Report

> original title:

USAF Unit Moves Reveal Clues To RQ-180 Ops Debut (excerpt)

(Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology; posted Oct 24, 2019)

By Guy Norris

Almost six years after Aviation Week first disclosed the existence of a large, classified unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman, there is a growing body of evidence that the stealthy vehicle is now fully operational with the U.S. Air Force in a penetrating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) role.

Thought to be dubbed the RQ-180, the advanced design is believed to have been flying since 2010 and under operational test and evaluation since late 2014. According to new information provided to Aviation Week, the aircraft became operational with the recently reformed 427th Reconnaissance Sqdn. at Beale AFB, California, this year. The Air Force declined to comment on the status of the program.

RQ-180 First flight believed to have occurred in 2010. At least seven vehicles have been developed and are in operation.

Although images of the aircraft remain elusive, an assessment of new evidence enables a clearer picture to be drawn of the secret aircraft’s progress through early flight testing, development and initial deployment. New information from open sources backs up the first reports of its existence published in 2013 and fills in gaps in the program’s earlier history as well as subsequent test and operational evaluation at sites mostly in and around California and Nevada. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Av Week website.