Re: Question about true designation for Northrop Grumman RQ-180

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Message posted by Peter Merlin (Member since 11/13/2003) on November 16, 2023 at 9:37:06 PST:

I asked Bill Sweetman in 2013 where he got the RQ-180 designation. He insisted that at least one of his sources claimed that was the actual designation.

I have always been skeptical of the RQ-180 designation because the RQ-170 designation for the Sentinel UAV had a logical explanation and the RQ-180 designation makes no sense within that context.

The Sentinel was built by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, which is known for using in-house project designations (P-175 Polecat UAV, P-791 hybrid airship, etc.). The Sentinel apparently started out as the P-170 demonstrator and the production model was given the operational designation RQ-170. It's the same sort of laziness that gave us the F-35 designation for the Joint Strike Fighter when the JSF demonstrator was called X-35.

The P-ISR UAV was built by Northrop Grumman. Maybe they just decided to use the RQ-180 designation because it was a newer, more capable platform than the Sentinel and they just needed an unclassified alphanumeric designator (like the designations for "classified prototypes": YF-110B, YF-113A, YF-114C, etc.). Maybe using RQ-180 was a subtle dig at Lockheed Martin. I don't know.

In Reply to: Re: Question about true designation for Northrop Grumman RQ-180 posted by noskcaJ on November 15, 2023 at 22:40:51 PST:


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