Northrop Grumman "RQ-180"

Not much that we didn’t know, and keep in mind the information was shared 10 years after the fact. The article also states the claimed the RQ-180 might be weaponized. That would surprise me. Spying on another country is one thing, but flying over another country with a potentially armed drone could very well be perceived as an act of war.
 
Diego is a pretty sure bet, as no civilian can get close to it.
Well, apart from the 60 Tamils....


Someone is due a bollocking over this. The US taking the UK courts for granted in the first days of a new government is not a good look. A UNHCR delegation was allowed access to the Tamils last year, so this is definitely a deliberate decision to block the court rather than a general policy.
 
Someone is due a bollocking over this. The US taking the UK courts for granted in the first days of a new government is not a good look. A UNHCR delegation was allowed access to the Tamils last year, so this is definitely a deliberate decision to block the court rather than a general policy.

The UK needs to forcefully remind the US that Diego Garcia is a British territory and to knock-off this shit.
 
Last edited:
https://www.airandspaceforces.com/air-force-vet-alleged-leak-vulnerabilities-aircraft-weapons/

Poor Paul. Apparently he worked at the munitions directorate for the AFRL. So that's the tie in for the "RQ-XXX." He peddled his complaints to several news outlets.


In the case of Freeman, in the 2016-2019 case he made the mistake of going to the press rather than using established “whistleblower” processes.

What’s strange in this new indictment is that Freeman has not had access to classified information since 2016. So how was he leaking in 2020?
 
Last edited:
In the case of Freeman, in the 2016-2019 case he made the mistake of going to the press rather than using established “whistleblower” processes.

What’s strange in this new indictment is that Freeman has not had access to classified information since 2016. So how was he leaking in 2020?
Leaking pre-2016 information in 2020 maybe.
 
There’s no way an RW-180 touches down anywhere in the mid east.
Not normally, but the RQ170s were flying out of Khandahar...

But I was honestly assuming that any non-US base would be an emergency divert base, not a regular operational base.


Something to consider is that if it can in flight refuel, it probably has very few foreign bases.
Or it just has global range.
 
Not normally, but the RQ170s were flying out of Khandahar...
Apples and oranges. 170 was created from the beginning counting possibility that it's tech can get to adversaries hands
 
In the case of Freeman, in the 2016-2019 case he made the mistake of going to the press rather than using established “whistleblower” processes.

What’s strange in this new indictment is that Freeman has not had access to classified information since 2016. So how was he leaking in 2020?

2019 Federal Appeals Court Decision in Freeman vs. Department of the Air Force
 

Attachments

  • 19-1509-2019-06-12.pdf
    80.4 KB · Views: 22
Groom Lake (developmental test), Edwards (operational test & evaluation), and Guam (operational deployment). All of these have been cited before, as well as apparent plans for deployment to England.

Where in the UK though? Mildenhall and Lakenheath are pretty public, Fairford too. Probably the safest from view is Boscombe Down but thats not an operational US airfield.
 
Where in the UK though?
Fairford, apparently. Back in 2021 or 2022, Chris Pocock pointed reported the construction of new, secure hangars there to support "an emerging requirement for military aircraft, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), to operate regularly from RAF Fairford." He noted that one of the relevant environmental impact documents specified that certain RPAS operations would take place only during nighttime hours. This is similar to descriptions of alleged RQ-180 operations at Edwards, protocols that have successfully kept the mystery aircraft out of the public eye since it was based there in 2014.
 
Fairford, apparently. Back in 2021 or 2022, Chris Pocock pointed reported the construction of new, secure hangars there to support "an emerging requirement for military aircraft, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), to operate regularly from RAF Fairford." He noted that one of the relevant environmental impact documents specified that certain RPAS operations would take place only during nighttime hours. This is similar to descriptions of alleged RQ-180 operations at Edwards, protocols that have successfully kept the mystery aircraft out of the public eye since it was based there in 2014.

So that would indicate that the RQ-180 can operate in airspace with civilian air traffic?

Because there is no way the UK would allow RPAS to operate from the UK if it couldn't....which also means the UK would need to be absolutely sure of that. This is one of the big selling points of Protector RG.1 and was part of the original promise for Watchkeeper, its also the reason that the UK's Reaper fleet has never flown 1 hour in UK airspace. I cannot imagine in a month of sundays that the CAA would take it on trust that RQ-180 can do it....which also means they would need access to the programme....which I can't see happening.

I could see RQ-180 operating from Diego Garcia, Akrotiri and Ascension though...(but there is no hangarage at Ascension or arguably any nearby target that would be worthwhile...).
 
Last edited:
Where in the UK though? Mildenhall and Lakenheath are pretty public, Fairford too. Probably the safest from view is Boscombe Down but thats not an operational US airfield.
There was a piece in one of the UK papers earlier this year, that I linked to earlier in this thread talking about the facilities at one airfield, unfortunately I’ve forgotten which one now, were being upgraded for this vehicle.
 
Recently this soon-to-be paywalled Aviation Week article has been popular. Something that caught my attention was the hint of the "RQ-180" having a payload bay.

Recently on eBay, I've seen some weird patches that I strongly suspect tie into this capability. I've attached an image of the patch for reference. The fact it mentions "Hat" is one possible hint that this has something to do with the "Mad Hatters" organization, the same group that is currently flying the RQ-180. The 6 stars could represent the Area 51 operating location. The black shape represents the still unacknowledged platform. The lightning bolt could represent electronic warfare. Last but not least, the bombs could hint at the capability I previously mentioned.

Cheers.
 

Attachments

  • s-l960.png
    s-l960.png
    1.8 MB · Views: 62
So that would indicate that the RQ-180 can operate in airspace with civilian air traffic?

Because there is no way the UK would allow RPAS to operate from the UK if it couldn't....which also means the UK would need to be absolutely sure of that. This is one of the big selling points of Protector RG.1 and was part of the original promise for Watchkeeper, its also the reason that the UK's Reaper fleet has never flown 1 hour in UK airspace. I cannot imagine in a month of sundays that the CAA would take it on trust that RQ-180 can do it....which also means they would need access to the programme....which I can't see happening.
I mean, if the RQ180 climbs like the U2, it could be at 60,000ft before it leaves military-controlled airspace, if not the airbase perimeter. So it never interacts with civilian traffic.
 
Where in the UK though? Mildenhall and Lakenheath are pretty public, Fairford too. Probably the safest from view is Boscombe Down but thats not an operational US airfield.
My immediate thought was Machrihanish, but turns out that's now civil :(
 
Recently this soon-to-be paywalled Aviation Week article has been popular. Something that caught my attention was the hint of the "RQ-180" having a payload bay.

Recently on eBay, I've seen some weird patches that I strongly suspect tie into this capability. I've attached an image of the patch for reference. The fact it mentions "Hat" is one possible hint that this has something to do with the "Mad Hatters" organization, the same group that is currently flying the RQ-180. The 6 stars could represent the Area 51 operating location. The black shape represents the still unacknowledged platform. The lightning bolt could represent electronic warfare. Last but not least, the bombs could hint at the capability I previously mentioned.

Cheers.
Realy interesting
 
Recently this soon-to-be paywalled Aviation Week article has been popular. Something that caught my attention was the hint of the "RQ-180" having a payload bay.

Keep in mind that this is what the author interpreted. The source could have been talking about a different program (such as the RQ-170) for all we know and the author may have assumed it was instead the "RQ-180" the source was referring to.
 
Keep in mind that this is what the author interpreted. The source could have been talking about a different program (such as the RQ-170) for all we know and the author may have assumed it was instead the "RQ-180" the source was referring to.
Another program than RQ-180 ?
 
Recently this soon-to-be paywalled Aviation Week article has been popular. Something that caught my attention was the hint of the "RQ-180" having a payload bay.

Recently on eBay, I've seen some weird patches that I strongly suspect tie into this capability. I've attached an image of the patch for reference. The fact it mentions "Hat" is one possible hint that this has something to do with the "Mad Hatters" organization, the same group that is currently flying the RQ-180. The 6 stars could represent the Area 51 operating location. The black shape represents the still unacknowledged platform. The lightning bolt could represent electronic warfare. Last but not least, the bombs could hint at the capability I previously mentioned.

Cheers.
The shape on the patch don't match with the RQ-180.... another program ?
 
I mean, if the RQ180 climbs like the U2, it could be at 60,000ft before it leaves military-controlled airspace, if not the airbase perimeter. So it never interacts with civilian traffic.

That wouldn't pass muster with the CAA I'm afraid...I'm highly doubtful that RQ-180 could be based out of the UK at any site.

Akrotiri and Diego Garcia are the ones to watch I guess...

My immediate thought was Machrihanish, but turns out that's now civil :(

Long since gone I'm afraid. 10 years+ since it was sold off, but even then it had effectively been fully closed since 1995. Once the SEALS moved out it was curtains.
 
Long since gone I'm afraid. 10 years+ since it was sold off, but even then it had effectively been fully closed since 1995. Once the SEALS moved out it was curtains.

God forbid we might keep something as a strategic asset. Same principle as running down the PPE stockpiles pre-Covid. Why keep things you don't need right now?

*headdesk*
 
That wouldn't pass muster with the CAA I'm afraid...I'm highly doubtful that RQ-180 could be based out of the UK at any site.

Akrotiri and Diego Garcia are the ones to watch I guess...

I suspect you can rule out Akrotiri given the presence of the Russian Med Squadron in Tartus, 160 miles away. Anyone want to bet they don't regularly have an AGI cruising off Akrotiri?
 
Recently on eBay, I've seen some weird patches that I strongly suspect tie into this capability. I've attached an image of the patch for reference. The fact it mentions "Hat" is one possible hint that this has something to do with the "Mad Hatters" organization, the same group that is currently flying the RQ-180.
This is apparently a Red Hats patch. Note that the word HAT is rendered in red and that there is an arc of six red stars like those on the original Red Hats emblem. The squadron has been involved in flight-testing foreign airframes as well as evaluating their avionics and weapons systems. All three of these elements (some might call that a "hat trick") are represented on this emblem, which I was told was made "as a going away present to the squadron." This was around the time that Steve Davies was saying a source told him the Red Hats had been inactivated due to some fallout from the September 2017 mishap.
 
Ninja said:
Something that caught my attention was the hint of the "RQ-180" having a payload bay.

Keep in mind that this is what the author interpreted. The source could have been talking about a different program (such as the RQ-170) for all we know and the author may have assumed it was instead the "RQ-180" the source was referring to.

Actually, there is some circumstantial evidence suggesting the "RQ-180" may indeed have a limited strike capability. The "nose art" for the second air vehicle (see page 415 of Dreamland: The Secret History of Area 51) features a woman sitting in front of a mirror and the motto "Which of Me Won't You See?" The woman, wearing white, is dropping flower petals from her fingers, but her black-clad reflection is dropping bombs from hers. The motto suggests a dual role. It makes sense from that standpoint that there may be situations that call for a "silver bullet" capability in which you wouldn't want to put a crown jewel like the B-21 at risk.
 
This is apparently a Red Hats patch. Note that the word HAT is rendered in red and that there is an arc of six red stars like those on the original Red Hats emblem. The squadron has been involved in flight-testing foreign airframes as well as evaluating their avionics and weapons systems. All three of these elements (some might call that a "hat trick") are represented on this emblem, which I was told was made "as a going away present to the squadron." This was around the time that Steve Davies was saying a source told him the Red Hats had been inactivated due to some fallout from the September 2017 mishap.
If you know antything more, could you please elaborate on the supposed inactivation of the Red Hats?
 
I suspect you can rule out Akrotiri given the presence of the Russian Med Squadron in Tartus, 160 miles away. Anyone want to bet they don't regularly have an AGI cruising off Akrotiri?
No bet.

An AGI cruising some 15nmi off the coast is why the Ohios "appear" in the middle of the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
 
If you know antything more, could you please elaborate on the supposed inactivation of the Red Hats?
It's not really relevant to this thread. Steve was told the squadron was disbanded sometime around 2021/2022. Not sure if it's true; maybe reorganized under different management. Sam tin, different label. The Red Eagles are still flying, in any event.
 
It's not really relevant to this thread. Steve was told the squadron was disbanded sometime around 2021/2022. Not sure if it's true; maybe reorganized under different management. Sam tin, different label. The Red Eagles are still flying, in any event.
Thank you.

I think any program related to Russian FME is very, very busy these days.

Actually, there is some circumstantial evidence suggesting the "RQ-180" may indeed have a limited strike capability. The "nose art" for the second air vehicle (see page 415 of Dreamland: The Secret History of Area 51) features a woman sitting in front of a mirror and the motto "Which of Me Won't You See?" The woman, wearing white, is dropping flower petals from her fingers, but her black-clad reflection is dropping bombs from hers. The motto suggests a dual role. It makes sense from that standpoint that there may be situations that call for a "silver bullet" capability in which you wouldn't want to put a crown jewel like the B-21 at risk.
Looking at the ‘nose art’ you refer to it has the roman numerals ‘VII-DCCCXXII’ which could very well be 08-0832, the second airframe of the RQ-180.

Of the pictures of the so called RQ-180 in the wild the ones who were photographed above CONUS were white, while the one photographed above the Philippines was black / dark grey. I wouldn’t be surprised if the art you’re referring to has something to do with this, assuming they’re the same aircraft.

Secondly, it would seem that the RQ-180 and the B-21 are almost identical in shape. The patch might also refer to two almost identical airframes with two different roles - but this is all highly speculative.

Then again, I would be surprised if the RQ-180 can be weaponized. Misidentifying a spyplane for a nuclear bomber is a sure way of starting WO III.
 
Last edited:
Of the pictures of the so called RQ-180 in the wild the ones who were photographed above CONUS were white, while the one photographed above the Philippines was black / dark grey. I wouldn’t be surprised if the art you’re referring to has something to do with this, assuming they’re the same aircraft.
I think not. The "nose art" was specific to the second preproduction air vehicle and I think it more likely that it referred to mission rather than paint scheme.

As for the Philippines image, the lighting and angle were much different from the California sighting or the Nevada sighting.
 
I would assume the "180" would have a weapons/payload bay and I think the 180 and B-21 share a lot of DNA. I was asked in the 2006-2007 time frame if I would interested in returning to NG to support engineering and flight test for a new program but would take too long to get my clearance re-instated.
 
So that would indicate that the RQ-180 can operate in airspace with civilian air traffic?

Because there is no way the UK would allow RPAS to operate from the UK if it couldn't....which also means the UK would need to be absolutely sure of that. This is one of the big selling points of Protector RG.1 and was part of the original promise for Watchkeeper, its also the reason that the UK's Reaper fleet has never flown 1 hour in UK airspace. I cannot imagine in a month of sundays that the CAA would take it on trust that RQ-180 can do it....which also means they would need access to the programme....which I can't see happening.
1721112317638.png
This is the new danger area activated by NOTAM over Fairford. Also, UK airspace between 01:00 and 05:00 is very, very quiet, so I would not rule out that a RQ-180 could be based here.

I suspect you can rule out Akrotiri given the presence of the Russian Med Squadron in Tartus, 160 miles away. Anyone want to bet they don't regularly have an AGI cruising off Akrotiri?

That might very well be, but I suspect the Russians (and the Chinese as well), have spy boats at Guam and Diego Garcia, too. I reckon it wouldn’t matter too much though, as their intelligence agencies will know much, much more about the capabilities of RQ-180 than we do.

OPSEC-wise it also wouldn’t matter too much as seeing it go airborne still won’t tell you where it’s going. Anyway, I’m pretty sure the Chinese have adjusted their sensitive procedures and communications by now by presuming there’s always an RQ-180 nearby.
 
That might very well be, but I suspect the Russians (and the Chinese as well), have spy boats at Guam and Diego Garcia, too. I reckon it wouldn’t matter too much though, as their intelligence agencies will know much, much more about the capabilities of RQ-180 than we do.

OPSEC-wise it also wouldn’t matter too much as seeing it go airborne still won’t tell you where it’s going. Anyway, I’m pretty sure the Chinese have adjusted their sensitive procedures and communications by now by presuming there’s always an RQ-180 nearby.

Well it’s a lot harder to blend in with civilian traffic around Guam and especially Diego. Both are a lot further from common shipping lanes than the UK. But nothing would prohibit them from operating there. Another consideration is just the shear amount of civilian water and air traffic. Diego would have obvious advantages there. Johnson, Kwajaleine, and Wake would minimally be good divert fields for the same reason.

As for communication procedures, there’s always an ELINT satellite overhead anyway.
 
Last edited:
Considering night transit limitation in the UK, why not Fairford? The 'whatever you want to cvall it' transits outside of heavy traffic transit it can operate perfectly safely.

Simple really.

Lots more Dragon Lady flights out of there recently so the detachment is probably able to deal with the wotsit too.
 
VII-DCCCXXII = (0)7-(0)822
8-832 = VIII-DCCCXXXII
Q-nimbus made an unfortunate typographical error. He meant to type VIII.

The numerals on the artwork do indeed convert to 8-832, which represents the serial number of the second air vehicle: 08-0832. The first air vehicle was 04-0831. There's a complete list of the nine preproduction articles in Dreamland: The Secret History of Area 51.
 

Similar threads

Please donate to support the forum.

Back
Top Bottom