Northrop Grumman "RQ-180"

EAFB South Base is no longer supporting the bomber (B-1, B-2, B-52) Combined Test Forces as far I know, something new there.
 
AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaand????????
Well, it's the logo of Northrop Grumman's Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). That's the company's equivalent of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works or the Boeing Phantom Works. According to accounts in the aviation press, the so-called RQ-180 is an ATDC product. Several years ago, a friend of mine was talking to some Northrop Grumman guys at the Los Angeles County Air Show. They were all wearing that logo on their jackets. My friend asked something along the lines of , "So, what's in the big hangar at South Base that's so hush-hush?" They wouldn't say, but one of them smiled and pointed at that patch.
It could say that the plane on the satellite picture see sooner this year on the Area 51 South hangar is a Northrop product ?
 
I think you are mixing up your hangars, Dark Sidius. That sounds like a completely different discussion about something near the large Scoot-n-Hide hangar at Groom Lake. Different subject altogether.
 
B-21 over at EAFB Main Base in re-furbished hangars, going to use Ridley Control.
 
The *tiniest* of official mentions....: The RQ-180 is listed under NG in a table (page 32) of 'Prime Contractors for Major Aircraft Acquisition Programs' in the OUSD's FY2016 Annual Industrial Capabilities Report to Congress.


This report summarizes DoD industrial capabilities-related guidance, assessments, and actions initiated during FY2016 and as they existed at the close of that year. It is important to note that the status of some of the programs described herein has changed in the intervening time.

Includes Previous Major Programs not Currently in Production.

Only appears in 2016 ;)

Interestingly the RQ-170 is marked as 'not in production' in 2017.
Do you have an archive of this??
 
I reckon this is a very plausible location for the RQ-180's lair: Northwest Field on Guam. It's remote and secluded. Interesting to note is that it's runway got an upgrade between 2018 and 2020, and during that time two new hangars were build as well. It seems the airfield was in disuse before then.

I think it's not unreasonable to assume that the RQ-180 got operation in that period, if not earlier. With a door width of about 48 meters (for American readers, that's about 48/91 of a football field ;)) it seems big enough to house the RQ-180.

It's also a logical location where you would expect the RQ-180 to operate; close to China.

Let's see if we can find more locations. I'm sure there must be one in the Middle East and one in Europe as well.
 
Kinda Guam and wingspan based on hangar size was discussed in this thread a year ago...
 
I reckon this is a very plausible location for the RQ-180's lair: Northwest Field on Guam. It's remote and secluded. Interesting to note is that it's runway got an upgrade between 2018 and 2020, and during that time two new hangars were build as well. It seems the airfield was in disuse before then.

I think it's not unreasonable to assume that the RQ-180 got operation in that period, if not earlier. With a door width of about 48 meters (for American readers, that's about 48/91 of a football field ;)) it seems big enough to house the RQ-180.

It's also a logical location where you would expect the RQ-180 to operate; close to China.

Let's see if we can find more locations. I'm sure there must be one in the Middle East and one in Europe as well.

There has been a lot of construction around the southwestern edge of Al Udied around the same time period.
 
I reckon this is a very plausible location for the RQ-180's lair: Northwest Field on Guam. It's remote and secluded. Interesting to note is that it's runway got an upgrade between 2018 and 2020, and during that time two new hangars were build as well. It seems the airfield was in disuse before then.

I think it's not unreasonable to assume that the RQ-180 got operation in that period, if not earlier. With a door width of about 48 meters (for American readers, that's about 48/91 of a football field ;)) it seems big enough to house the RQ-180.

It's also a logical location where you would expect the RQ-180 to operate; close to China.

Let's see if we can find more locations. I'm sure there must be one in the Middle East and one in Europe as well.

There has been a lot of construction around the southwestern edge of Al Udied around the same time period.
I don’t think Al Udied is a likely place for the RQ-180 to operate. Too big, too busy, too many nationalities. I reckon their operating bases are more secluded - but possible to find.
 
I reckon this is a very plausible location for the RQ-180's lair: Northwest Field on Guam. It's remote and secluded. Interesting to note is that it's runway got an upgrade between 2018 and 2020, and during that time two new hangars were build as well. It seems the airfield was in disuse before then.

I think it's not unreasonable to assume that the RQ-180 got operation in that period, if not earlier. With a door width of about 48 meters (for American readers, that's about 48/91 of a football field ;)) it seems big enough to house the RQ-180.

It's also a logical location where you would expect the RQ-180 to operate; close to China.

Let's see if we can find more locations. I'm sure there must be one in the Middle East and one in Europe as wellrumoursthat it's Vandenberg.

I reckon this is a very plausible location for the RQ-180's lair: Northwest Field on Guam. It's remote and secluded. Interesting to note is that it's runway got an upgrade between 2018 and 2020, and during that time two new hangars were build as well. It seems the airfield was in disuse before then.

I think it's not unreasonable to assume that the RQ-180 got operation in that period, if not earlier. With a door width of about 48 meters (for American readers, that's about 48/91 of a football field ;)) it seems big enough to house the RQ-180.

It's also a logical location where you would expect the RQ-180 to operate; close to China.

Let's see if we can find more locations. I'm sure there must be one in the Middle East and one in Europe as well.
I've heard a rumour that it's Vandenberg....
 
I don’t think Al Udied is a likely place for the RQ-180 to operate. Too big, too busy, too many nationalities. I reckon their operating bases are more secluded - but possible to find.

Agreed, but then if you think about Kandahar and the RQ-170 operating in broad daylight...

Could Beale be a possible base of operations for the RQ-180?
 
I've heard a rumour that it's Vandenberg....

Vandenberg has very little hangar space. An RQ-170 detachment is based there.
Every year DoD publishes proposed construction as part of their budget requests. This includes classified facilities and locations. If you go through the last several years of requests you can see what program prompted construction at base X or Y.
 
I've heard a rumour that it's Vandenberg....

Vandenberg has very little hangar space. An RQ-170 detachment is based there.
Every year DoD publishes proposed construction as part of their budget requests. This includes classified facilities and locations. If you go through the last several years of requests you can see what program prompted construction at base X or Y.

A while back, someone pointed out a secure hangar at Beale Air force Base but it's likely more of a schoolhouse than a base of operations. Also, observers have noticed some new hangars at RAF Fairford in England where operations are expected to take place predominantly during nighttime hours. U-2 flights from Fairford have no such restrictions.
 
The Orbiter reprocessing facility houses some kind of classified program per a Warzone article.
 
The Orbiter reprocessing facility houses some kind of classified program per a Warzone article.

Yes, the RQ-170 flight test detachment
 
So Quellish is skeptical because he thinks this guy made it up. Tirpak told me it was used in a sidebar conversation where Tirpack referred to it as RQ-180 and the Lt General responded to several inquiries while being careful to not call it the RQ-180. So RQ-180 may not be the real name, but who in the hell is going to call it "The platform generally referred to as RQ-180".
"The Artist formerly known as Prince." ;)
 
Not that it proves anything, but I should note that such shelters have also occasionally proven handy for hiding access to underground hangers in plain sight.
That takes an awful lot of construction. Not that it can't happen, but for a new build open-ended hangar like that to somehow hide something on the order of two-three times its volume in excavated dirt is difficult. Not to mention just how much of a pain in the butt that would be to do without collapsing part of the hangar or the ground or ramp around it.
 
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Remember the photo of a flying wing over California City, CA, definitely not an RQ-170? What's shown on the taxi way seems too small for an RQ-180?
 
Remember the photo of a flying wing over California City, CA, definitely not an RQ-170? What's shown on the taxi way seems too small for an RQ-180?

The Vandenberg satellite image shows a Lockheed RQ-170 Sentinel on the taxiway. The unidentified aircraft photographed over California City more closely resemble's Northrop Grumman's final SensorCraft configuration, long rumored to be the basis for the reported "RQ-180" (as described in Aviation Week & Space technology).
 
Remember the photo of a flying wing over California City, CA, definitely not an RQ-170? What's shown on the taxi way seems too small for an RQ-180?

Yes, it is an RQ-170 at Vandenberg.
Looking at the photo, it doesn't look much like an RQ-170. If you didn't *know* it was an RQ-170, you might think it was any number of other things.

mystery.jpg

The wings, etc. do not look quite like an RQ-170. There are dark spots near the trailing edge of the "fuselage".
It could be a Polecat
It could be a sub scale RQ-180 demonstrator
A captured North Korean super-UAV
Or a B-21 demonstrator
Or even the mysterious elusive RQ-180 itself.

We don’t know how big the “RQ-180” is. An aircraft thought to be an “RQ-180” was photographed near Groom Lake, using the camera data the size was estimated to be 70-75’ wingspan IIRC
(if it was flying at 60k feet that day there would not have been a contrail, for a contrail to form it would have to 42k or lower)
 
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Now that the USA doesn't have it's Air Force Bases in Afghanistan anymore the Umm al Melh base at 19° 6'53.30"N 50° 7'31.49"O might be a very good location for RQ-180 operations against Iran. It's one of the most isolated bases in the world, and it already has a lot of drone activity going on, presumably for the war in Jemen. It's GE images are two years old, and as far as I can see there are no hangars that can house the RQ-180... yet.

Iran is just under a 1000 km away, so this could be an ideal location.
 
Now that the USA doesn't have it's Air Force Bases in Afghanistan anymore the Umm al Melh base at 19° 6'53.30"N 50° 7'31.49"O might be a very good location for RQ-180 operations against Iran. It's one of the most isolated bases in the world, and it already has a lot of drone activity going on, presumably for the war in Jemen. It's GE images are two years old, and as far as I can see there are no hangars that can house the RQ-180... yet.

Iran is just under a 1000 km away, so this could be an ideal location.
"RQ-180" is a HALE drone likely with endurance on par with an RQ-4. I don't think it would be based that close to Iran for operations there; that would be an RQ-170 thing. Honestly it wouldn't need to be based in the region at all if there's a European base. But now that I think about it, the logical location would Diego Garcia. Total isolation, in easy range of the mideast (for this platform), India Ocean coverage if needed, and a back door to the WestPac.
 
Now that the USA doesn't have it's Air Force Bases in Afghanistan anymore the Umm al Melh base at 19° 6'53.30"N 50° 7'31.49"O might be a very good location for RQ-180 operations against Iran. It's one of the most isolated bases in the world, and it already has a lot of drone activity going on, presumably for the war in Jemen. It's GE images are two years old, and as far as I can see there are no hangars that can house the RQ-180... yet.

Iran is just under a 1000 km away, so this could be an ideal location.
"RQ-180" is a HALE drone likely with endurance on par with an RQ-4. I don't think it would be based that close to Iran for operations there; that would be an RQ-170 thing. Honestly it wouldn't need to be based in the region at all if there's a European base. But now that I think about it, the logical location would Diego Garcia. Total isolation, in easy range of the mideast (for this platform), India Ocean coverage if needed, and a back door to the WestPac.
I agree about Diego Garcia, however, it is VERY far from everywhere; well over 4000 km to the closest theatre of operations.

But still, if the endurance is long enough, it would be a perfect spot.
 
But still, if the endurance is long enough, it would be a perfect spot.

If you had a series of these aircraft, you can sequence their on-station time and never need to worry about operating them out of Diego Garcia, especially if they can be re-fueled remotely.

How much importance does the USAF place on this type of aircraft? They seem to believe it can penetrate any type of IADS because of operational testing success. Yet they discount what would happen if a certain nation state actually chose to pursue active air defense against high altitude LO reconnaissance assets.

A lot of people don't understand China's method of operations, especially as it relates to the ancient texts they follow as a foundation for contemporary doctrine. Eventually, the United States will experience a wake up call that will force people to pay attention and care again.
 
The terms P-ISR and P-EW seem to be thrown around often, are these just unofficial terms or were they ever officially stated?
 
Found another one of Shikaka’s lairs: Al Dhafra Afb in Abu Dhabi, location 24°13'52"N 54°33'46"E.

It’s perfect: secluded from the rest of the base, very close to a runway, fenced, climate control facilities and two watertanks for fire fighting.

This must be where a RQ-180 is based to spy on Iran.

According to Whisperstream 14-16 airframes were built (of which one crashed), and together with the 2 hangars at Guam Northwest Afb and the northern hangar at Beale Afb we now know the hideout of 4 of them.

That means at least 9 of them are still missing, or, if one hangar can fit 2 RQ-180’s, we’re still missing at least 5 of them. That’s the lowest estimate; there’s probably more of them but this is a safe estimate.

That’s still quite a lot for such a big aircraft. Let’s keep looking!
 
Found another one of Shikaka’s lairs: Al Dhafra Afb in Abu Dhabi, location 24°13'52"N 54°33'46"E.

It’s perfect: secluded from the rest of the base, very close to a runway, fenced, climate control facilities and two watertanks for fire fighting.

This must be where a RQ-180 is based to spy on Iran.

According to Whisperstream 14-16 airframes were built (of which one crashed), and together with the 2 hangars at Guam Northwest Afb and the northern hangar at Beale Afb we now know the hideout of 4 of them.

That means at least 9 of them are still missing, or, if one hangar can fit 2 RQ-180’s, we’re still missing at least 5 of them. That’s the lowest estimate; there’s probably more of them but this is a safe estimate.

That’s still quite a lot for such a big aircraft. Let’s keep looking!
Depending on the beast's endurance, it's entirely possible that the "missing" 5+ birds are in flight!
 
Found another one of Shikaka’s lairs: Al Dhafra Afb in Abu Dhabi, location 24°13'52"N 54°33'46"E.

It’s perfect: secluded from the rest of the base, very close to a runway, fenced, climate control facilities and two watertanks for fire fighting.

The hangar at the coordinates given is next to a new, large ramp / apron that appears to be full of fighter sun shelters.

I did a quick search online for construction contracts and solicitations for Al Dhafra. There are quite a few as the base has been constantly changing and expanding over the years. The hangar and ramp in question was constructed between 2020 and 2023, which did narrow things down.

The hangar is called the "Large Aircraft Maintenance Hangar", awarded as contract W912ER19C0015 in response to solicitation W912ER-19-R-0001 by US Army Corps of Engineers Middle East. There are building plans, site plans, etc. available online through SAM, HigherGov, GovTribe, etc. that lay out the plan for the site. This is a hangar to support the many fighter aircraft that will be using the new ramp. It is not very secluded as there are many, many fighters being parked right in front of it.
 

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