US Intelligence Returns to Upper Stratosphere
This Aviation Week article discusses the new, high altitude, high performance stealth surveillance drone RQi80 apparently in flight testing by the Air Force:
The RQ-180 fills a hole left by the 1998 retirement of the Mach 3 SR-71 Blackbird, the most remarkable aircraft ever built, that basically enabled us to overfly anybody anywhere and look down. Unlike the Blackbird, it can stay over an area of active interest and see things at a level of detail and time sequence unavailable by satellite, which has to move out of range in orbit.
Aviation Week suggested that will be unarmed (no Hellfire missiles), and did not speculate on altitude or speed, but suggests it will be stealthy and fast enough to escape detection.
It sure ain’t Santa…