Missing X-series and Q-series designations possibly used for NGAD tech demonstrators and new secret Lockheed Martin spy drone?

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Message posted by Vahe Demirjian (Member since 04/28/2022) on February 08, 2024 at 20:55:20 PST:

I know that Frank Kendall ordered DARPA to initiate an X-plane program to build NGAD technology demonstrators that last November the Defense & Aerospace Air Power Podcast dropped hints about Lockheed Martin delivering the first examples of a new unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to the US Air Force. Now, with General Atomics having just unveiled the XQ-67 drone for the Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) program, I'm now inclined to make the following deductions about which designations most probably have been applied to the NGAD technology demonstrators as well as the classified Lockheed Martin spy drone:
- Since the X-273 was flown in the 2012-2016 timeframe, long before USAF officials disclosed in 2020 that an NGAD demonstrator had flown, the designations X-58, X-63, and X-64 were most likely assigned to the NGAD demonstrators built by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. If so, X-58 was initially the umbrella DoD designation for the program to build technology demonstrators for the NGAD, with one of the NGAD tech demonstrators retaining the X-58 designation and the other two being designated X-63 and X-64. In a similar vein, the Pentagon initially used X-32 as the umbrella designation covering the JSF program would began life as the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) and Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) programs, before eventually keeping the X-32 design number for the Boeing JSF technology demonstrator and assigning the designated X-35 to the technology demonstrator for the Lockheed Martin JSF design after Boeing and Lockheed Martin were down-selected in 1996 to build X-planes for the JSF program.
- The timing of the unveiling of the XQ-67 means that the classified Lockheed Martin unmanned reconnaissance UAV most likely has been given a yet-to-be-disclosed Q-series designation that falls between XQ-58 and XQ-67.
- Given revelations on social media that MQ-35 was assigned in May 2023 to the Shield AI V-BAT, leaving a gap between RQ-28 and MQ-35, the US Air Force may be planning to disclose that the Northrop Grumman unmanned P-ISR flying wing informally dubbed "RQ-180" actually has a Q-series designation that falls between Q-28 and Q-35.

Personally, I don't mean to put the cart before the horse when it comes to speculating if the NGAD technology demonstrators or the new secret Lockheed Martin reconnaissance drone have received official X-series and Q-series designations. However, it is more likely than not that X-63 and X-64 being probably used for two out of three NGAD tech demonstrators might explain why these designations have yet to appear in the public domain because the timeframe in which one of the NGAD demonstrators flew predates the assignment of X-62 to the NF-16D VISTA in 2021 and the DoD initially applied the X-32 designation to the entire JSF program in 1994 before restricting X-32 to the Boeing JSF tech demonstrator and assigning X-35 to Lockheed Martin's technology demonstrator for its JSF design long after the X-33 and X-34 designations were assigned to NASA's Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program and the Orbital Sciences suborbital spaceplane respectively.


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