It seems to be the mystery du jour and I've been getting a lot of correspondence from readers about it over the last two weeks.
Looks as if the Air Force has confirmed the existence of the "Beast of Kandahar" -- a tailless, flying-wing designed drone that looks a lot like NorGrum's planned Naval UCAS and is a major leap in design over current "model airplane" specs. It turns out the Beast is a LockMart Skunky project doing a little war zone field testing.
The RQ-170 Sentinel is being developed by Lockheed Martin and is designed "to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward deployed combat forces," the air force said in a brief statement...The article goes on to raise a very good point as to why a "stealthy" drone needs to be based in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where there's no relevant air defense capability.
Aviation experts dubbed the drone the "Beast of Kandahar" after photographs emerged earlier this year showing the mysterious aircraft in southern Afghanistan in 2007.
The image suggested a drone with a radar-evading stealth-like design, resembling a smaller version of a B-2 bomber.
The photo of the drone in Afghanistan has raised questions about why the United States would be operating a stealth unmanned aircraft in a country where insurgents have no radar systems, prompting speculation Washington was using the drones for possible spying missions in neighboring Iran or Pakistan.Of course, for use in Pakistan. And the interesting thing is that it's based in Kandahar, with a much shorter flight vector to Quetta and its environs -- where Mullah Omar is suspected of basing his "Quetta Shura" insurgency and a place that might be a bin Laden haven since the Paks are pushing in FATA. Otherwise, wouldn't it be based in J-Bad?
Also, the story mentions that lack of an "M" designation on the plane number as an indication that it doesn't have weaponry. Doesn't look to me from the picture that the drone has any hard points, but could it have internal bomb bays (which would stand the reason with the 'stealth' designation)? Sure.
Main reason why I didn't push on this very hard was that our friends at Aviation Week have been all over this all week and are way better sourced on this kind of stuff than me. Also, our good friend Steve Trimble has been on the case.