Northrop Secretly Builds RQ-180 Spy Drone


Northrop Grumman Corp., one of the U.S. Defense Department’s biggest contractors and the driving force behind the Navy’s experimental X-47B drone shown above, has developed a new classified unmanned aircraft for the Air Force, according to a news report.

The system, known as RQ-180, is designed to fly undetected through contested airspace, similar to the now-retired SR-71 Blackbird plane, according to an article by Amy Butler and Bill Sweetman of Aviation Week. That may make it a potential weapon against countries such as North Korea, Iran or China.

While the Falls Church, Va.-based contractor and the Air Force have been tight-lipped about the drone and its so-called “cranked kite” design, the reporters pointed to corporate financial statements and satellite imagery of infrastructure that hints at the classified program.

For example, Northrop recently disclosed that an unnamed aircraft program entered early production — several years after reporting a $2 billion backlog increase in the unit that develops cutting-edge weapons programs such as the X-47B drone, according to the article. What’s more, satellite imagery shows new infrastructure such as hangars to accommodate an aircraft with a wing span of more than 130 feet at Northrop’s Palmdale, Calif., site and at the Air Force’s Area 51 test center in Groom Lake, Nev., according to the report.

That would make it much bigger than Lockheed Martin Corp.’s RQ-170 Sentinel, which has an estimated wingspan of between 65 feet and 90 feet. The RQ-170 has been used for high-profile covert operations such as the 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Bethesda, Md.-based contractor last month unveiled plans for an unmanned successor to the famous SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. The new twin-engine, hypersonic aircraft, known as SR-72 and nicknamed “Son of Blackbird,” will be designed to fly as fast as Mach 6. That’s six times the speed of sound — more than 3,500 miles per hour — and twice as fast as its predecessor.

Northrop’s new drone — which is unlikely to go by the moniker “Son of Sentinel” for obvious competitive and legal reasons — has already begun test flights and may be ready for operational missions in 2015, according to Aviation Week. The timeline may explain why the Air Force has pushed to buy fewer of the company’s Global Hawk drones.

Northrop made headlines earlier this year when its experimental X-47B unmanned craft successfully landed aboard the deck of a moving aircraft carrier and is competing for the chance to build the Navy’s carrier-based drone fleet.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • FormerDirtDart

    I have to wonder if the Air Force is purposely leaking information on this aircraft to get congress to withdraw the mandated acquisition of additional Block 30 Global Hawks, that the Air Force has made clear they don’t want.

    • ronaldo

      I think that is the only reasonable conclusion. Thanks FDD.

      • I agree! They do not need the Block 30 regardless!

    • Davis

      That’s probably their intent but knowing Congress, it won’t matter; They’ll just buy both!

    • blight_

      “Here Northrop, take the taxpayers money! I want my cut. Now.”

    • At an airshow some years ago I talked to a Boeing representative, who was keen on selling F-18s to the Danish air force. Asked how big the ‘political’ slice was on a pie chart with ‘price’ and ‘technology’ as well, he cheerfully suggested that politics was the major factor.

    • steve

      Guess tha “secret” went to hell in a hand basket, didn’t it?

  • Virgil Cuttaway

    There are many Chinese Americans working in the US defense imdustry, including at Palmdale. The Chinese will know all about this project before it becomes operational.

    • Martin Shipley

      Virgil, Perhaps you could elaborate on your position by answering a couple of questions. 1) Would you support creating internment camps for Chinese-Americans? 2) Do you agree with Duncan Hunter’s (R-CA) position that we should use tactical nukes in Iran to “set them back a decade or two or three”. ?

      For my part, neither are acceptable.

    • nics

      There are also many Russian Americans, Japanese Americans, and Jews working in the industry. All American defense projects are being funded by China and Japan. Let them know. Without their financial support, US government offices would have to be closed.

      • Beauregard

        another voice from the don’t know shinola about finance crowd.

        • nics

          I double dare you to show us what you know.

    • blight_

      Bear in mind that the Chinese “Father of Rocketry” was Caltech-trained; kicked out of the American program and deported to the People’s Republic, with only the skills to build rockets in his head.

      Suffice to say, it was poorly thought out. He was thrown out of the rocketry program because of membership in the communist party. I’m not sure what options were available to him, asides from starving to death.

      • ChrisB

        Alleged membership. He was held under house-arrest without process for five years for an unsubstantiated allegation, then told to GTFO. He was justifiably angry with his treatment.

    • blight_

      I had family that worked in the Los Angeles aerospace industry in the ’80s. I never did find that Secret Shortwave Radio or the One-Time-Pad or a Secret Banner Image Of Mao Zedong that every Chinese-American family is supposed to have hidden away somewhere…

      Sure, every Chinese-American is a Mao-loving spy. Tell it to the numerous WASPs and non-Chinese who were bribed into selling their country downriver for cold capitalist cash.

      • UAVGeek

        It’s cause most of the Chinese Americans that emigrated here in the 40’s and 50’s were RUNNING from Mao.

        • blight_

          One of my parents came from expats that went to Country A in ’49, fleeing Fujian with the shirts on their backs and losing businesses and property to the Proletariat Armies, then heading to the US in the late ’70s.

          The other parent was from Guangdong/Hong Kong, went to Country B in the 60’s before coming to the US in the early ’70s.

          You are correct though in that many Chinese were fleeing Mao; but most people assume that they were all secret agents for Zhong Guo. It irks me every time I have to read paranoid screed on DefTech.

          Then there’s the next wave of immigrants from Taiwan, who are generally wealthier than the Chinese/Cantonese immigrants; and the two don’t necessarily get along well; and this group came in the ’80s and ’90s, followed by a fresh wave of Chinese immigrants from the 2000’s.

          San Gabriel Valley, with its mix of multiple generations of Chinese, descendants of the early immigrants to the US plus the younger, recent waves of immigrants is always interesting.

      • Joe Blow

        They don’t need to be Mao-loving-commies, just a little more interested in protecting their relatives back home than in protecting the secrets of some rich, greedy, fat-cat defense contractors.

        It doesn’t take massive corruption. Even if 99% of Chinese immigrants are loyal to the US, it only takes one guy to transfer decades worth of R&D.

        • blight_

          The threat isn’t any more than any other person that can be bought with money.

          • Blight – While I agree with much you say you are wrong here. If you have family back in China there’s automatically more leverage to turn you. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to be more cautious toward any group because of a given trend. Maybe the group should go out of its way to demonstrate it’s not a threat?

            When the FALN was bombing people in the 70’s I understood why folks might be wary of me and ask where I stood on Puerto Rico’s future. I unapologetically condemned the FALN and their supporters. I am an American and didn’t get angry at other Americans for responding to what some Puerto Ricans were doing. I got angry at the Puerto Ricans who were terrorists and those that supported them.

            Radical Islamists happen to be Muslim. It’s prudent to be wary these days.

            When a woman walks alone and avoids a man she isn’t a bigot. As the man I’ve gone out of my way to show I’m not a threat…

            There have been quite a few cases of Chinese and Chinese Americans spying for China, at least equal in number to other ethnicities. Let’s stop the PC and replace it with common sense. All PC does is make it harder to find the bad guys.

            No, not promoting internment camps but additional questioning /investigation is warranted as opposed to absurdly saying everyone is just as liable to spy for China.

          • blight_

            I would like to think that there is a profile for people vulnerable to espionage, that spans racial identity.

            What would be cool is a predictive way to tell which country a person is likely to commit espionage to. I suppose the NSA would be in charge of developing this from human metadata…

          • orly?

            Security clearance clearing/background check.

            Thought that was standard with every high profile job.

            You aren’t getting it if you have issues, especially if its monetary related.

            Still, its not a perfect system.

            The Secret Service is supposed to incorruptible, yet they went nuts with the whoring (leaving them vulnerable to pillowtalk).

          • orly?

            Out of curiosity, how hard were Irish discriminated when the IRA were active?

          • orly?

            True, everyone has a price apparently.

            John Anthony Walker comes to mind.

        • nics

          Yet so far the biggest leaks have all been made by Anglo-Americans who were disillusioned with the corrupt federal government. Another big source has been secretive but voluntary transfer to “special countries” such as Israel. And NO, one guy can’t possibly transfer decades worth of R&D.

    • Andy

      How many successful Chinese immigrants do you think really want to go back to China? Is there life here making very likely hgih 5 to 6 figures so hard?

      The ones to worry about are the ones we force back to China.

      • Vok

        The situation is slowly changing. You find more and more Chinese and Indians moving back to their native countries after graduation. As standard of living improves and more opportunities opening up back home, the trend is reversing. US now has to compete for talents.

        • orly?

          True, and as are social norms.

          When it becomes more and more apparent you aren’t welcome just because of your heritage/skin color(prejudice), the more and more you feel like spending your talents and money somewhere else.

    • M Lee

      You are behind the time. There are Chinese-Americans who engineered and built this plane and other US top secret projects, including the B-2 and the Trident missile. This plane is insignificant relative to the Department of Energy where Dr. Steven Chu was in charge as secretary – the boss of US nuke secrets.

      BTW, do you have a problem if the next US president is a Chinese-American who will have his fingers on US nukes?

      • blight_

        Was anyone concerned that soldiers of German ancestry wouldn’t kill German soldiers in WW2? Or Italian soldiers could not be sent to the Italian front, or to North Africa to face Mussolini? Or that ethnic Russians would turn on Americans if sent to Germany post-WW2?

        I note that British troops were perfectly a-ok with shooting Americans in the War of 1812, and vice versa.

        • orly?

          …did Japanese Americans fight in the Pacific?

          • blight_

            As far as I can tell, no. They were apparently volunteering for it, but it didn’t go through. Some served in Military Intelligence, but it’s unlikely they served in combat arms. Hawaii’s Territorial Guard was dissolved and reformed as an ANG in ’42, losing some pre-war Japanese personnel but keeping some.

    • Mike

      Virgil, What ancestry do you have? Should the rest of us be concerned where you or your parents were born? This is the kind of bologna that divides nations. It does nothing to bring them closer together. Virgil you should be ashamed of yourself. There are lots of very good people that are stopped from making great contributions to our nation because of people that think less of others like you do.

    • tiger

      Nice to see bigotry alive & well in 2013.

    • Citanon

      By your logic Albert Einstein would have sold out our nuclear secrets to the Nazis.

      Over the years, there have been thousands of German, Russian, and Chinese scientists who contributed vital pieces to our national defense industry and a small number of spies, the most damaging of whom have not been members of those “suspect” ethnicities at all. (Remember Robert Hanson?)

      Chinese American engineers today are indispensible to the defense industry, and they are just as patriotic, and keep secrets just as well as anybody else.

      The witch hunt type of mentality you display, does far more harm than good, by driving talented people away from an industry that badly needs the best talents out there.

    • Duncan Chin

      Yes, …it is a concern …..keep in mind Americans of Chinese ancestry are American same as you..and others of various ethnicity……many born here…..identify with America, not China ……are loyal Americans….fought in wars to protect our country… is sad to see that their ethnicity has made them suspect as happened to Americans of Japanese ancestry during WW2………Duncan Chin

    • steve

      That appears to be their goal….to get into as many top secret and top planning of all our military weapons systems…..Yes, once a Chinese always a Chinese, wit leads to what and who has their loyalty????? Pat track record indicate the US sure as hell don’t…..

      • Thomas L. Nielsen

        “….once a Chinese always a Chinese….”

        Seriously? By those standards, absolutely no one is loyal to the US. The population is loyal to England, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Lativa or whatever other nation their ancestors originally emigrated from. Sucks for you, then, doesn’t it?

        Regards & all,

        Thomas L. Nielsen

        • saberhagen

          People dont say “…once a [whatever nationality] always a [whatever nationality]” for a reason, only for Chinese. Ever wonder why there’s so many China Town around the globe, genius?

          • Thomas L. Nielsen

            “People dont say….” – and what “people” would these be? And please provide evidence that “people” only say that about Chinese and their descendants

            “Ever wonder why there’s so many China Town” – ….or “Little Italy”‘s. Never could trust those greasy, spaghetti-slurping, mumble-mumble…(with apologies to any Italians or descendants of same reading this).

            Regards & all,

            Thomas L. Nielsen

      • blight_

        Turns out money and women will flip the right person, Chinese or not.

        Noshir Gowanda must sound Chinese to you.

        • saberhagen

          a drunk driver does not always cause accident. A sober driver sometimes causes accident. And with you splendid logic, we should just abort DUI law altogether, because anyone can cause accident, drunk or not.

  • Lance

    We need recon planes im not a fan of drones last thing we need is Russia China or North Korea having there hands like Iran did on a top secret drone that malfunctioned. Keep man in the loop that’s alot more sane than drones.

    • blight_

      Until Gary Powers refuses to take his suicide pill.

      • platypusfriend

        Well, he still got the Intelligence Star and the Director’s Medal. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have taken mine, either.

        • blight_

          Which kind of proves the Drone School’s point. A human can often be as revelatory as capturing an intact drone, perhaps even more so.

          Nobody cried much when the D-21 drones fired from SR-71’s disappeared over Lop Nur. I’m sure the Taiwanese U-2 pilots trained for reconnaissance over the People’s Republic were missed…in Taiwan.

          I’m curious to see what Lance thinks is the bigger risk: That a single drone land (either intact or not intact), or getting a pilot who bails out and fails to take the suicide pill?

          And of course, skilled manpower doesn’t grow on trees either.

          • FormerDirtDart

            The glaring hole in your curious inquiry: “…what Lance thinks…”
            A historical appreciation of Lance’s observations more so illustrates a process devoid of cognitive function.

          • tiger

            How about Cuba? The loss of Maj. Anderson’s U-2 had the Joint Chiefs ready to take out the SAM sites. History would have had a different ending to the missile crisis. You really do not need a guy to click photos on one man suicide missions anymore.

          • blight_

            Forgot about that one.

            Indeed, I wonder what would have happened if Anderson had survived. I fear they would’ve tried to rescue him, and the results would’ve been nasty.

        • hibeam

          Did he get a free phone?

          • nics

            It all depends on what “get” means, what “free” means, what “phone” means, and what “free phone” means.

    • tiger

      Yep, we Need Jim Belushi & his P-40 & On his one man scout mission to find the enemy again……………

  • Guest

    Considering what happened with the RQ-170 that crashed in Iran, I wonder
    if this one will have a self-destruct system?

    • hibeam

      We could have destroyed it on the ground but the Commander in Golf was too timid to act.

      • nics

        I wouldn’t blame him because the drones available for destroying the captured RQ-170 could be captured themselves. You would end up having 2 or more drones on display across the Iranian press.

        • JH
          • nics

            No, it’s not. No coordinates. No fixed target. No guts. No defense against retaliation.

    • steve

      Looks lie another Hitler’s German Military designs being recreated but the US is doing the recreating. All from captured info and material after the end of W2…… We sure allowed a ton of Nazis in our Country, to escape their wartime involvements just to have them work for the US government…. I wonder if the price was worth it, considering the millions of folks hat suffered and died at their hands during WW2??? I don’t think so myself…..

      • blight_

        Think they would’ve been better off in Soviet captivity?

        And you worry about guns going to Mexico…even more German engineers and scientists in the Soviet Union. Ruh roh.

  • hibeam

    The Iranians say this one doesn’t handle as well as that other one.

    • nics

      It’s hard for the Iranians to remotely control the RQ-180 in America from Iran. Fly the drone over Iran and it will be under their full control in no time.

    • Musson

      I thought that was very funny!

    • ray


  • Hunter76

    Unmanned spying. Excellent!

  • ribby22

    Now, now let’s not totally dismiss someone for not elaborating on a fairly public incident that happened at N.G. a few years back when an ex-Chinese national who had came to USA and was granted US citizenship that was working on the B-2 project who had stolen Terabytes of Top Secrete material related to stealth projects, and was sending it back to Chinese officials. ( PLA ) The material included classified material on the B-2 as well as some Stealth R&D material, which the US tax payer had shelled out Billions for . We need to all sit down and write a few letters to our elected folks in D.C. and make sure this type of stuff does not happen again.

    • nics

      Never heard it. Reliable sources please. (links)

    • SMSgtMac

      He’s probably thinking of the India-born Noshir Gowadi who was selling classified know-how to foreign countries including China after he retired from Northrop. His specialty was low observables in the IR spectrum.
      May his rotting in a jail cell for life be cut short by his own hand.

      • blight_

        They could send him to educate boys in Afghanistan. Let the Taliban take care of things for us.

    • Dfens

      Boeing did the same thing, and all that happened to them is that they continue to make money off the US taxpayer hand over fist:

    • Chief Cockeye

      What happened to the “NOFORN” caveat? Why do we have ANY foreign nationals working in our defense industry? Sure, “NOFORN” only means ‘No Foreign Dissemination’; but it should be interpreted to mean that no foreign national, or persons with immediate/recent connections to any foreign country, would be allowed anywhere near our defense industrial complex. Certainly no where near our classified military projects.

  • lets not forget.., the lessons from history.., or we pay to relive the consequences. “De ja vue all over again”(Yogi B.)

  • Rudy

    Perhaps the Defense Committee in Congress knows what is needed to protect us. Drones may be major factor in the next war. The military and defense contractors should have an unique internet system used only by and for the military and defense that is in no way connected with any other internet system.

    • Art

      They do and have had for years.

  • MWang

    To Mr. Virgil Cuttaway and the others who think like him,

    I hope you don’t really mean to imply that having Chinese Americans working for the US defense industry necessitates that Chinese Americans will give away defense secrets.

    I am a Chinese-American, born and raised near Philadelphia, PA. Both my grandfathers were high ranking government officials in the now essentially defunct Republic of China. My god-uncle was a general in the small Republic of China air force that fought the Japanese in China with the help of the Americans (He helped fly American made planes thru Alaska and Russia to China to then fight the Japanese). Both my parents as children have extraordinary stories fleeing the communist take-over of China. They grew up in Taiwan; graduated from National Taiwan University, then came to the US seeking a better life.

    My father raised me with a passionate love for this country and it was no surprise then that I wanted to serve this country. I sought and received a congressional nomination to USMA and though God did not have that in his plan for me I am now a materials science engineer and have worked for both the Army Research Laboratory (ARL-RDECOM) at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds and at Letter Kenny Army Depot (LEAD-AMCOM). I have worked on/supported PATRIOT, AVENGER, HMMWV, MRAP, RHINO and various other programs during my tenure as a engineer and I am currently working in co-operation with ARL on developing a further fundamental understanding of the failure behavior of complaint adhesives; understanding their non-linear fracture behavior (read into this one possible application is improved/optimized light-weight armor).

    And you are to tell me that because I am Chinese-American, I am somehow more of a security risk than any other researcher of a different ethnicity? I tell you sir, that you don’t even know me.

    Do I have family in China and Taiwan? Yes, of course. As I’ve only been to Taiwan twice in my life (once when I was born, and again when I was 8); I hardly know them. Yet, I have dozens of friends and family serving in the military; some still currently serving in Afghanistan; some just recently returned.

    The assertion you made is the definition of ignorance, which is defined as the lack of knowledge or information. You did not take into account my family history, my current relationships or my individual character; which I guarantee you far more influences my decision making than any of my cultural origins do.

    Can I tell you of an experience I had working at LEAD? My boss at the time made a comment about how those “damn Chinese were taking all our damn manufacturing jobs”… I was sitting right there… (his most recent hire) working in an job that supported the repair and manufacture of defense assets (see listed above). I felt embarrassed to even be there at the moment and my more senior Jewish, co-worker pointed out to him how ignorant a comment that was, especially with me sitting at my desk right next to him. He fumbled out some excuse about how I was an American and so by definition he didn’t mean me, but you can see how something like that would make me feel, yes?

    Your comment makes me feel similar. I know you love this country and want the security of our defense secrets. I want that too. Heck, I’m trying to invent these defense secrets!

    • Brian

      I have worked Aerospace with many immigrants or their descendants from China, India, Former USSR, Egypt, Israel, and so on. If anything, they seem to me more fiercely loyal Americans than many who take their many generations of family citizenship for granted. In addition, you have to consider that many come here because they don’t approve of the government of their native countries. (FYI, my folks came from Ireland decades ago.)

    • bandit8

      I hope you enjoy this country as much you say. blood is thicker than water. vn 1969-70. seadog out

      • Jake

        That’s the same kind of knee-jerk blind bigotry that sent my grandfather to lose a leg to frostbite in Russia during its civil war because he and all the other immigrants of German descent weren’t trusted to fight with Pershing.

        • blight_

          Ah, the Russian intervention that isn’t really talked about.

          Didn’t realize they deliberately picked Germans for that operation.

      • blight_

        If blood were indeed thicker than water, humans as a whole wouldn’t be killing each other. But it isn’t.

        Blood’s just water, proteins (comprising serum and immunoglobulins) and cells of varying types (erythrocytes et al).

  • MWang


    There are the Edward Snowden’s and Bradley Manning’s of this world, certainly; but do you unfairly generalize and characterize me to being like them just because I am Chinese-American?

    If your answer is still yes; then that’s fine, your entitled to your opinion in this country where freedom of speech is espoused. I would encourage you and your sons to then take over my job and the jobs of the many Chinese Americans in Science, technology, engineering, and math (AKA STEM) which drives our defense industry.

    If you want to learn about how depleted uranium rounds (i.e sabot rounds) are able to penetrate armor thru it’s self-sharpening material property (as it’s crystal structure fragments) or how HEAT rounds punch thru traditional Rolled-Homogenous Armor (RHA) and how CHOBHAM armor is designed to defeat this, be my guest! If you want to learn the different fundamentals of how radar deflecting and radar absorbing materials, both of which are used in stealth technology today, work and then advance the field of study you would be doing a great service to this nation! I welcome you and members of every-ethnicity to do so.

    The fact of the matter is; many people don’t go into this field of study because it is frustrating, hard, and often unappreciated. I tell you, many Chinese Americans work in this field because our parents expected us to excel at science and math and told us that the careers we should aim for are to be doctors, scientists, or engineers. So, please do this nation a favor and tell your sons and daughters to do the same.

    Now let’s talk about what makes a person susceptible to being turned into an asset for a foreign government. This comes straight from a security briefing I sat in at ARL. People, of any race or ethnicity (seriously they have a book listing the cases), with radical ideologies, disillusionment, extraordinary vices or attachments, or money problems make the best candidates for extracting secrets from. If someone has a gambling problem and is in a lot of debt; they could be approached by a foreign agent and turned into an asset. The same goes for someone, like a Bradley manning or Eric Snowden, who’s radical personal ideologies lead them to give away national secrets.

    So then, what stops the millions of defense industry researchers from being bribed, arm-twisted, or radicalized into giving away our secrets? I would say, personal character, our relationships with our neighbors, and our love for our country.

    Martin Luther King Jr. The great civil rights advocate is famously quoted to have said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Kind David, in the Biblical Pslam 7:8-9 says this
    “Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
    according to my integrity, O Most High.
    Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
    and make the righteous secure—
    you, the righteous God
    who probes minds and hearts.”

    I think you and I both would like to live in a world where we are not judged to be this or that based on the color of our skin. I would hope that people would judge me based on my character. I ask that in the future; you consider this before making broad sweeping generalizations like you and many others did in this thread.

    • blight_

      Well spoken.

      My line of work is molecular biology, my work is more plowshare than sword. And so long as the government continues to fund cancer research I will do what the taxpayers expect of me at low graduate-student wages, just like all the other foreign students working at equivalent low wages.

      • Jeff m
        • MWang

          I think what blight meant by “plowshare than sword” is that what he does is more civilian than defense research oriented. Not that he’s not passionate about it.

          Relatively; graduate students do get paid low wages. Many graduate scientists and engineers could earn twice or three times as much in industry as they do in school; but being in school affords them a different opportunity. The ability to pursue research advancement rather than production support. There are some corporate R&D labs; but it usually takes an advanced degree, i.e. PhD. to even qualify for the position.

          Also the government is typically the main source of funding for science that is beyond the arc of profitability. i.e. when businesses don’t know if a research endeavor will end in profit, they typically don’t invest in it. So if it’s something that should be advanced; the government typically has an interest to fund it to the point that it becomes commercially viable… a good example of this is the space industry (i.e. NASA vs. SpaceX). SpaceX would not exist if the gov’t hadn’t pioneered the field first.

      • Riceball

        Agreed, very well spoken. As a Chinese-American with a remarkably similar background (my grandfather was also a general in the Taiwanese Air Force both during & after WW II) I totally appreciate your sentiments and although I work in a total civilian industry with no secrets to sell to China I would be pretty pissed if someone made a comment in my hearing about job stealing or implied that I was less loyal because of my ethnic heritage. For the record, I was born and raised in the US with only distant relatives that I don’t really know living in both Taiwan & China so I have no ties back to the “old country” as it were and on top of that I served proudly as a Marine Reservist so I think I’d hardly be one to sell out my country to China or any other.

    • Mehrdad

      Some secrets already mentioned here,NOT?

      • Mat

        Lol, nothing that’s not already public domain, well documented and available through a simple Google search.

    • jon shields

      hijack! Stop writing!

  • oblatt2

    America is heading for half a century at least of a very painful economic decline. And its going to be be very nasty for anyone who looks Chinese. Historically there is always an upsurge in racism when empires decline.

    Maybe you can stick it out but at least teach your kids Mandarin so they have the opportunity to leave and find better jobs.

    • blight_

      They need useful skills first, though I suppose the more distressing alternative is America turning into District 12, with nominal independence so long as they send tribute and kids to the Hunger Games and obey the will of District 1 in Beijing.

  • Dfens

    It is sad that the article reference that piece of crap Lockheed is pedaling as the SR-72. That thing won’t go Mach 6 regardless of what kind of engines they put on it. Hell, it would be lucky to be as fast as the SR-71. These stealth flying wing reconnaissance aircraft that are being unveiled all have the same problems as manned stealth aircraft. The coatings are unreliable and subject to damage. It takes these aircraft a long time to get on station because of their subsonic cruise speeds. It’s sad that we continue to go backwards in aircraft technology even as our defense propaganda continues to spin every aircraft as if it were some miracle of God. Truly great aircraft are designed by men, not committees.

    • Jersey viper

      The USSR was run by committees……. Right into the ground. What lessons can we learn from that? Actualy committees do work when they are run by they guys who have their sleeves rolled up and have grease all over them.

      • Dfens

        Hell, even the Soviet Union never designed weapons by committee. Only we are that stupid.

  • Robert Kuurstra

    If you like your drone you can keep it

  • dba

    There’s a reason I never thought of applying for a job in defense industries although there are tons around here. My skill set is largely in IT which is even more sensitive.

    I’m thinking, why would I want to work in a field where I have to wonder ‘are those looks on their faces looking at me meaning something else’? And I can’t surf internet freely, major minus for me.

    I was working in a small startup few years ago and one of my coworker I worked closely with was a veteran (in 30s or 40). During one of the Happy Friday night drinking session in office, I happened to be in the bathroom (sitting) when he and one other came in. They didn’t know what I was in there and apparently with loose lips from alcohol, they were chatting and the topic of Asian-American came up.

    The dude said ‘WHAT ASIAN-American’ (they are not American)?

  • Mitch S.

    Gee, why the RQ180 or SR72 when we’ve had the Aurora for over a decade?
    Wasn’t it Sweetman who told us that?

    • Dfens

      There’s a reason they haven’t leaked anything about the Aurora airplane(s) yet. Failure stays classified.

      • Mitch S.

        I wonder when the real story will come out.
        I figure there was hype and exaggeration with the Aurora sightings but still…
        The AF strenuously wanted to close the Global Hawk buy despite Congressional objection – now we know it’s because the RQ180 is in the wings.
        So what was “in the wings” when the AF closed the SR71 program despite congressional objections?
        Has been 20 years already, it’s about time.

        • Dfens

          Maybe Snowden has something on it in his “doomsday” file, but other than that don’t look for anything to become unclassified. Like I said, failure stays classified. What the aviation magazines called “the Aurora” was most likely more than one airplane program, and very real.

  • Bob Rowe

    People ! We can see your face, But can’t read your mind ! We can see your body but can’t look into your heart ! We must be mindful-not cinnical ! SOME spy’s look like YOU !!

  • mrlee

    During the Vietnam time, our equipment was supposed to have explosive self destruct side packs on all of the boxes. The only problem was that some of them went off when they weren’t supposed to. So we decided to take them all off, and hope that if the bird went down, all of the boxes would be destroyed in the process. I imagine that that is still a consideration even today.

  • Andy

    Make sure to have a self destruct device. so no one can COPY AND TOUCH IT WHEN IT CRASH.

  • chaos0xomega

    I really gotta wonder, they keep making these things bigger and bigger, are they really so “blinded by stealth” that they don’t think someone will spot one with a mark-1 eyeball?

    Besides that, it seems odd to me that we are investing all this money into ISR platforms that could, conceivably, be utilized for strike purposes… I mean… its BIG ENOUGH…

    • Riceball

      Because it’s bloody hard to see a plane flying at 3+ times the speed of sound at edge of atmosphere altitudes. To spot that you have to be looking at the right spot at the right time to see it and then there’s the matter of tracking it on you AD systems; the places these stealth aircraft would fly over are often places who don’t like their air space violated and will attempt to shoot down anything that does and IR & visual targeting don’t work very well on high speed/altitude targets.

      • Dfens

        You realize this “RQ-180” is strictly subsonic, right? It probably relies on a very light wing loading to get it up to high altitudes which make it hard to see or hear. Speed works very well, especially when you combine it with a bit of stealth like the SR-71 did, but these UAV’s are more like the B-2. They are strictly subsonic with stealth maximized. Ironically the SR-71 was a more reliable and cheaper way to do surveillance than these slower stealth aircraft. It didn’t need the coatings or edge treatments because by the time any radar saw it, it was already beyond where they could develop a firing solution. Plus at Mach 3+, its engine had no moving parts, it was purely in ramjet mode. As long as it had fuel it had speed.

  • John P

    Only a fool would not have a distruct package on these things

    My other comment is ——— do you consider yourself ?????nationality/American or do you consider yourself an American of ??????????? decent??
    To me that might signify some order of priority when it comes to allegiance.

  • Jersey Viper

    Listening into your comments, gotta say for such a smart group of guys & gals you do need to think out of the box. About Chinese going back to the mainland, how many do you think do you think may be working for us or going back to work for a free China? How many good ol Americans working for our military or in sensitive areas have given away secrets to other countries? As far as destruct devices, unless it disintegrates the unit its on, forensic investigation can find out some secrets. Get back to talking shop I need to catch up on technology.

  • Well, I guess it’s no longer a secret… This military security program really sucks! Who is in charge?


    Just as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II fighter jets do not resemble a flying wing like the F-117 or B-2; one has to wonder whether the RQ-180 is really the most ideal shape for a stealth drone especially when it’s a subsonic aircraft that cannot maneuver very easily.

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  • Roscoe

    We know that most spies that sell American technology are of British and German decent. Maybe we should stop giving top secret clearances to all people of British and German decent!

    Seriously, I agree, it is hard to find visual clues that can indicate a person’s heart. So we must trust and verify, plus compartmentalize the various technologies.