Beale, Guam and the RQ-180



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Message posted by Skeet (Member since 06/29/2022) on September 21, 2023 at 14:51:06 PST:

Clues at Beale:

I have been back on the hunt for more info on the RQ-180 and the rumours that itís based at Beale. Looking around the base, the northern hangar really stands out. There was some speculation on this forum back when Gabe posted his Beale flyby photos that this hangar was a strong candidate due to the additional security fence surrounding it.

Looking back at the Google Earth satellite imagery, I noticed there has been significate upgrades to that hanger between 2018 and 2021. A new fuel tank was built to the north, the roof was refurbished, and two large ventilation/climate control units added.

The B-2 infamously needed temperature-controlled hangars to protect its RAM/RCS reducing skin. Could it be that this is also a requirement for the RQ-180?

The new fuel tank is also notable. Why build one next to the hangar? Does the RQ-180 use a new high-altitude fuel? Beale is home to the U2 which uses the high-altitude capable JPTS fuel so there would be an abundance stored at the base. Why build another tank? Is the fuel itself another piece of secret tech?

These features strongly suggest to me that RQ-180ís are in fact based in the northern hanger at Beale.

Looking further afield:

The only sighting of the RQ-180 outside of the US was over the Philippines in 2021. This begs the question, if the RQ-180 is operational in Asia, where is it based?

It could be flying extremely long-range missions from the US but IMO itís probably based in or near the theatre. Japan, Diago Garcia and Guam all stood out as good possible locations, so I started looking.

This is where it got interesting...

Near Andersen AFB, Guam, is Northwest Field, a WW2 era airfield surrounded by jungle that was closed in 1949. I noticed some new looking hangars on the NE end of the field so checked the historical images and sure enough there has been development there in recent years.

Construction started on a small runway in 2017, which finished sometime in 2018. By 2020, two new hangars were built on the north end and the runway had been widened and lengthened, now measuring 8,500 ft.

Looking closer at the hangars, they feature climate control units on the rear and there is fuel tank to the west. The setup reminds me of the Beale hangar. The hangars measure 170ft so would be able to fit a 130ft wingspan aircraft.

The runway looks like concrete and is completely unmarked so you can zoom in very close to see tyre marks from landings. In particular, the last two pairs of tyre marks are very clear. The single wheeled pair measures around 14-15ft which would fit nicely with a Globe Hawk. The twin wheeled marks, which are most common, measure around 28-29ft centre to centre, which is huge!

For comparison a Boeing 737's gear is 18-19ft wide and an Airbus A320's is 24.9ft wide. Wider landing gear is common on higher aspect flying wing aircraft like the B-2 and B-21. Could this be from an RQ-180 landing?

I found one article in The Warzone about Northwest Field relating to an exercise which mentions that only F-35s, F-16s and C-130s have landed there.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/38971/f-35s-and-f-16s-set-to-operate-from-austere-jungle-airfield-during-major-exercise-on-guam

Any suggestions for another military aircraft type that has a 28-29ft landing gear width? Perhaps a clue of what lives in the northern end hangars.


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