Tags: US | drone | war.aircraft

U.S. Reveals 'Beast of Kandahar' Drone

Tuesday, 08 Dec 2009 09:56 PM


WASHINGTON - The US Air Force on Tuesday confirmed for the first time that it is flying a stealth unmanned aircraft known as the "Beast of Kandahar," a drone spotted in photos and shrouded in secrecy.

The RQ-170 Sentinel is being developed by Lockheed Martin and is designed "to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward deployed combat forces," the air force said in a brief statement.

The "RQ" prefix for the aircraft indicates an unarmed drone, unlike the "MQ" designation used for Predator and Reaper aircraft equipped with missiles and precision-guided bombs.

Aviation experts dubbed the drone the "Beast of Kandahar" after photographs emerged earlier this year showing the mysterious aircraft in southern Afghanistan in 2007.

The image suggested a drone with a radar-evading stealth-like design, resembling a smaller version of a B-2 bomber.

A blog in the French newspaper Liberation published another photo this week, feeding speculation among aviation watchers about the classified drone.

The air force said the aircraft came out of Lockheed Martin's "Skunk Works," also known as Advanced Development Programs, in California - the home of sophisticated and often secret defense projects including the U-2 spy plane, the F-22 fighter jet and the F-117 Nighthawk.

The photo of the drone in Afghanistan has raised questions about why the United States would be operating a stealth unmanned aircraft in a country where insurgents have no radar systems, prompting speculation Washington was using the drones for possible spying missions in neighboring Iran or Pakistan.

To read full AFP story — Go Here Now.

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Tuesday, 08 Dec 2009 09:56 PM
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