Category Archives: Drones

Satellite caught a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone on the ground at Creech AFB

One of our readers has spotted something interesting in a satellite image

Although Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) have operated from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, for a long time, and some blurred videos and images are available on the Internet, you don’t easily find a satellite photo showing one of these stealthy drones, anywhere on the web.

That’s why the sat image we are talking about is particularly interesting.

Available on Terraserver website, it shows a “Beast of Kandahar” (as the RQ-170 was dubbed after being spotted for the first time at the U.S. airbase in Afghanistan) parked just in front of a shelter at Creech (click here for the sat image).

The date of the imagery is: Feb. 2, 2012.

The drone sits close to a Reaper drone and the proximity helps comparing the size of the two unmanned aircraft.

The RQ-170 is one of the most famous U.S. Air Force (and CIA) UAS.

Last year, Iran unveiled a copy of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drone allegedly manufactured by reverse-engineering of U.S. Sentinel drone captured in December 2011 while remotely operated from Creech AFB.

The Iranian version of the Sentinel drone was displayed next to the one that crash landed in northeastern Iran about three years ago. Suspicious footage allegedly showing the copycat Sentinel flying in Iran can be found here.

Image credit: Terraserver

H/T to Joshua Nyhus for the heads up.

 

New images of Europe’s stealth combat drone nEUROn during operational testing

The nEUROn stealth combat drone as seen from a different point of view.

The first example of the nEUROn UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), is conducting operational testing in the Perdasdefogu range, in Sardinia.

The photos in this article were taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Caglieri as the full-scale technology demonstrator returned to Decimomannu airbase at the end of a test flight.

Noteworthy, these were shot from the left hand side of the drone with the extracted undercarriage, and they clearly show the text XAV-5A-003 on the landing gear door along with the flags of the nations that are taking part in the development of the nEUROn France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece.

After completing the testing campaign in Italy, the nEUROn will move to Visdel, Sweden, for weapons trials.

nEUROn left side top

Image credit: Alessandro Caglieri

 

Video of the X-47B drone first autonomous aerial refueling

Someone said we are one step closer to Skynet..

On Apr. 16, one of the two Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft of the X-47B program performed the first autonomous drone air-to-air refueling (AAR) test taking fuel from an Omega Air KC-707 tanker.

Here is the video of the UCAS-D pluggin the retractable IFR (In-Flight Refueling) probe in the tanker hose basket.

The two X-47B technology demonstrators will be retired and probably donated to a museum or stored at the “boneyard”, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, after these aerial refueling tests: Navy stealth killer drones are “just” a technology demonstrator, a testbed for the future planned Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS).

 

You won’t believe this is NOT an F-117 Nighthawk stealth jet!

From a certain angle, the nEUROn drone is  an F-117 look-alike.

The image in this post was taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Roberto Zanda on Apr. 21. It shows the first example of the nEUROn UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), the full-scale technology demonstrator developed by France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, returning to Decimomannu airbase, Italy, at the end of test mission.

The European drone is involved in operational testing over the Perdasdefogu range, in Sardinia, before moving to Visdel, Sweden, for weapons trials.

We have often highlighted the loose resemblance of the new stealth combat drone to the American Northrop Grumman X-47B but this photo seems to prove the UCAV design was also inspired by the legendary Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk stealth jet.

Image credit: Roberto Zanda

 

This photo of X-47B combat drone taking fuel from tanker proves we are one step closer to unmanned aerial refueling

X-47B has completed first contact with an aerial refueling hose.

On Apr. 16, “Salty Dog 502″, one of the two Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft of the X-47B program performed autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) test, plugging the in-flight refueling (IFR) probe into the hose of a Omega Air tanker off the coast of Maryland.

The AAR in set to be the last for the two X-47B stealth killer drone technology demonstrators (the other being “Salty Dog 501″): with the end of this testing phase the two unmanned aircraft will be retired and probably donated to a museum or stored at the “boneyard”, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

In fact the X-47B is “just” a technology demonstrator and, as such, it’s till quite different from the planned Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS).

In spite of calls to extend testing on the Northrop platforms, the costs to reconfigure the two X-47B in such a way to let them behave more like the Navy’s preferred option for UCLASS would be prohibitive.

Image credit: Northrop Grumman