Military drone X-47B
Residents in the Washington, D.C., area were buzzing with speculation after pictures popped up online showing a “UFO” in transport along the Capitol Beltway. The sighting took place around 11:00pm Wednesday when drivers first saw the craft being hauled on a flatbed truck on I-270, and then again down I-495.
An official at Northrop Grumman confirmed to WTTG-TV on Thursday that the craft was actually an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System. They said the drone was being transported from Edwards Air Force Base in California to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland for testing.
It was not the first time this style of aircraft had been mistaken for a UFO while being transported. Last year, residents of Cowley County, Kansas made a similar mistake.
And this large object spent the day at the rest stop just north of the Pesotum ramp. State police blocked off the entrance and wouldn’t let drivers pull in. Troopers wouldn’t say what was behind the white wrapping. All we know is they were in charge of escorting the load which was being carried by Diamond Heavy Haul, Inc.
We like to think of the drone war as something far away, fought in the deserts of Yemen or the mountains of Afghanistan. But we now know it’s closer than we thought. There are 64 drone bases on American soil. That includes 12 locations housing Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, which can be armed.
Public Intelligence, a non-profit that advocates for free access to information, released a map of military UAV activities in the United States on Tuesday. Assembled from military sources — especially this little-known June 2011 Air Force presentation (.pdf) – it is arguably the most comprehensive map so far of the spread of the Pentagon’s unmanned fleet. What exact missions are performed at those locations, however, is not clear. Some bases might be used as remote cockpits to control the robotic aircraft overseas, some for drone pilot training. Others may also serve as imagery analysis depots. Full article