US Army loves to use drones to take out strategic targets around the world. Because of that, they are funding research and employing developers to come up with better models. Recently, Northrop Grumman has managed to complete the development of a new drone; RQ-180. It is a classified drone for Uncle Sam’s army and the design has been able to successfully incorporate stealth and better aerodynamics while keeping the costs low. Its predecessors were the U-2 and SR-71 but this particular model has surpassed them when it comes to stealth flying.
There are not many details available but what the defense official has confirmed is as follows; the drone will be capable of carrying radio frequency, passive electronic and radar surveillance kit.It will hopefully be able to engage in electronic warfare as well. The airframe design is quite similar to X-47B but this particular design has smaller radar signature and comes with a more aerodynamic built that allows the plane to be efficient.
Advanced Fluid dynamics were employed to achieve this mixture of aerodynamics and stealth. Airflow was modeled in 3D simulations and allowed engineers to design the RQ-180 in such a way that the flow of air is laminar for most part of the wing. Next came the use of newer technologies in manufacturing and it led to a surface that is free of fasteners, hence improved aerodynamic characteristics.
This drone might not go into formal production if the Pentagon decides to tighten the financial belt, but so far so good. The drone’s applications can only be speculated for now, but its development sure is interesting. Let’s see when the full specs come out and we can really find out what this UAV can do.