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Full Frontal Shot of the Beast of Kandahar

New pics of the nose section of the Air Force's secret RQ-170 Sentinel UAV have emerged over at Secret Projects forum. The shots were apparently taken at an air base in Afghanistan, presumably Kandahar, the base where other pictures of the plane have been taken.

Steve Trimble over at Flight Global points out that the Lockheed-built drone's main air intake is quite different, basically higher, than those on Northrop Grumman or Boeing's stealthy drones, the X-47B and the Phantom Ray, respectively.

Others at Secret Projects point out what might be a pair of sensor windows on the leading edge of the starboard wing.

It has long been a mystery as to why the Air Force is flying a stealthy-looking drone over a nation with no air defenses. Many point to nearby Pakistan and Iran as countries the plane could actually be spying on. Meanwhile, some think its simply being tested out in a more demanding environment than could be found stateside. Others speculate that the plane is relatively old technology, simply being used to help out with fairly standard ISR missions. They argue the U.S. wouldn't want to risk its newest UAV tech crashing and falling into the wrong hands.

The Air Force will only say that the bird is meant to support "combatant commander needs for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to locate targets."

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