Dec 042012

“A Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel stealth unmanned aerial system spied on Osama bin Laden the night before the special operations unit raid that successfully killed bin Laden at his mansion compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, according to an initial report by the National Journal.

The U.S. Air Force has never released a photograph of the Sentinel, developed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, but it does acknowledge its existence, earning it the nickname the “Beast of Kandahar,” after the airfield it operates out of in Afghanistan…

Though its capabilities have never been formally outlined, the mission suggests the Sentinel is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, whose multiple secretive missions might have consistently been related to bin Laden. The RQ UAV designation indicates that the system did not carry any weapons. The stealth body of the aircraft lead experts to speculate that the system was being used either over Iran or Pakistan, since the Afghanistan Taliban, according to a 2009 AFP news agency report, does not use radar systems….

UAS attacks more than tripled under the Obama administration and the leadership of Leon Panetta in the CIA, particularly along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border…”

[Excerpts from a UAV organization this writer belongs to:]

The RQ-170 Sentinel is reported to be operated by the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron at Tonopah Test Range, Nevada under the Air Combat Command, 432nd Wing, Creech AFB, Nevada. It is said to be a Lockheed Skunk Works project.

You may recall that the Have Blue/F-117 Skunk Works designed aircraft flew out of Tonapah. Reports have it that the RQ-170 has been operating out of Kandahar since 2007.

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