A lot has been made of the US Air Force's belated unveiling of the RQ-170 Sentinel, aka the "Kandahar Beast." Its form, resembling a smaller version of a B-2 bomber, and jet proposal have the military world wondering what's next.
"The RQ-170 is flown by the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron at Tonopah Test Range, Nev. – home of the F-117 stealth fighter when the program’s existence was secret," reports Ares, a defense blog for Aviation Weekly, who also explains its Darkstar ancestry.
The RQ-170's impressive specs reveal their weakness, and the reason why the Kandahar Beast was kept secret until now. Intelligence officials are wondering what exactly is this aircraft doing in Afghanistan. Spying on Iran and Pakistan was the immediate reaction.
True or not, the RQ-170's controllers have bigger plans in mind.
“The fielding of the RQ-170 aligns with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’ request for increased intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to the Combatant Commanders and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz’s vision for an increased USAF reliance on unmanned aircraft," a USAF statement read.