Military Embedded Systems

Classified stealth drone used in USAF electronic warfare exercise


August 10, 2020

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Lockheed Martin image.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. The U.S. Air Force this week concluded a test of tactics involving use of its highly classified RQ-170 surveillance drone with other stealth aircraft. The exercise, held Aug. 4 to Aug. 6 at Nellis Air Base, Nev., also included an Air Force B-2 bomber and F-22 and F-15 fighter planes, as well as the U.S. Navy's E/A-18G Growler electronic warfare plane, according to officials.

The pairing of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft with the drone was a simulation of electronic attack missions — the use of electromagnetic energy to destroy enemy combat capability — using the more advanced F-35, as anti-air defense cover.

According to officials, the first-of-its kind exercise used the more advanced F-35s as critical anti-air defense cover and focused on stealthy penetration into denied areas, suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses, and electronic attack tactics.

The Large Force Test Event was part of an effort to develop solutions to Tactics Improvement Proposals (TIPs) regarded by the Air Force as priorities. The TIPs under consideration this week focused on tandem capabilities of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft and freedom to maneuver in contested battlespaces.