Is the US Air Force About to Unveil Some New Spy Drones?

Get ready for the 'White Bat'.
Ameya Paleja
The Air Force makes special reference to white bats.PACE/YouTube

What's the best way to counter gossip? Coming out with the truth. That seems to be the idea behind a new video released by the U.S. Air Force's Profession of Arms Center of Excellence (PACE).

The video that was released earlier this month recounts the ways intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) have improved over the decades. The U.S. has moved far ahead from the days when balloons were sent up in the air to understand what was happening behind enemy lines. Adversaries of the U.S. are now a world away and the military still has the ability to "find the unfindable."

The video could be dismissed as one of the promotional videos about military establishments except that towards the end, the narrator specifically mentions white bats. If you have been following the news, RQ-180, nicknamed the White Bat was reportedly spotted near the Philippines in September this year. This follows reports of previous sightings of the spy drone that reportedly has stealth capabilities apart from a high-altitude and long-endurance (HALE) flight. 

According to reports from Aviation Week, RQ-180 has been developed using classified funds and has been in use by the U.S. military for a while in contested and defended airspace. With a wingspan of 130 feet (40 m), an endurance of 24 hours, Aviation Week attributes the seven such aircraft, that are reported to be currently in service, as the reasons why the U.S. Air Force talks about developing ISR technology.

With an increase in the number of reported sightings of the aircraft, the U.S. Air Force probably believes it is a good time to share details about its white bats.

As pointed out by users in the comments, there is also an easter egg in the video. The silhouette of a large unmanned plane appears for just over a second, which appears like the SR-72 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Dubbed as 'Son of Blackbird', this hypersonic UAV proposed by Lockheed Martin is expected to touch Mach 6. Also intended for ISR purposes, the UAV is expected to take flight by 2025.

Maybe we will see some concept images and artists' depictions in the future? 

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