Possible Sighting of the RQ-180 over Area 51, Oct. 2021


On October 30, 2021 Dreamland Resort Webmaster Joerg Arnu and a photographer who wishes to remain anonymous were at the Groom Lake Road gate of Area 51 to take photos of a nearby radio site. Around 10:45am Arnu heard a faint aircraft noise and noticed a contrail straight above, inside the Area 51 restricted airspace. The aircraft was heading roughly SSW. Through his IS binoculars Arnu first thought he was looking at a B-2, until he realized the aircraft had a POINTED tail. The B-2 has a serrated tail. The photographer accompanying Arnu took the photo below (two enhanced versions super imposed). It is clearly a twin engine aircraft. The shape very closely resembles previous sightings near Edwards AFB, CA and over the Philippines. It is believed that in all three sightings the aircraft was the still super secret Northrop RQ-180 high-altitude long-endurance ("HALE") UAV.

The photo was taken with a Canon 20Mpix camera with a 1600mm equivalent focal length lens. Based on the camera equipment used and assuming a rumored wingspan of the RQ-180 of 120 feet Arnu calculated the altitude of the aircraft at the time of the sighting to be above 60,000 feet. Contrails typically form between 25,000 and 40,000 feet. But under the right conditions the contrail zone can extend to above 60,000 feet.

The RQ-180 is believed to be operating from Edwards AFB South Base. The flight path Arnu and his photographer observed would bring the aircraft right to Edwards AFB.

The sighting happened on a Saturday when there are usually no Boeing 737 Janet flights. On that particular day, however, there was an early morning Las Vegas-TTR-Area 51-Las Vegas Janet round trip and a late afternoon round trip in the reverse order. This could be related. Possibly the RQ-180 used some resources controlled from Area 51 and TTR, such as the Russian Radar sites or the two Electronic Combat Ranges near TTR during its fly-over. Or possibly flight tracking was provided by Area 51 and/or TTR.

Related article: Secret RQ-180 Stealthy Unmanned Spy Plane Spotted Over Area 51 - The Warzone


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