Mystery Flying Wing Drone spotted at Palmdale Air Force Plant 42

Taken from a pilot passing through Palmdale airfield last year, the photo in this post was published by Tyler Rogoway on his website.

It shows what appears to be a flying wing type of drone, inside of an aircraft shelter located north of the Northrop Grumman facilities at Air Force Plant 42.

Even if the aircraft, most probably an unmanned one, has a shape seemingly similar to that of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, it’s actually quite larger than the “Beast of Kandahar” type of unmanned aerial systems, an example of those was captured by Iran in Dec. 2011.

Based on Rogoway’s detailed photo-analysis, the drone sits in 80ft wide shelter. What’s weird is that, although shielded from satellites, and away from the curious eyes of aircraft spotters, the structure hosting the mysterious aircraft is unsealed, a fact that almost completely rules out any possibility the one depicted in the image is a new black project.

Still, it’s really hard to say whether the mysterious drone is a prop, an X-47 mock-up used for testing purposes, a technology demonstrator, a Global Hawk replacement, a small scale unmanned B-2 or a larger Sentinel (like the one exposed in satellite images we posted last year), or really a new black project (a larger Sentinel).

Image courtesy of Tyler Rogoway/


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.