The US Air Force Profession of Arms Center of Excellence (PACE) has released a YouTube video titled ‘Heritage Today – ISR and Innovation’ that appears to showcase top secret US Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) projects. The short clip shows the evolution of the ISR mission since its inception. It shows a flying RQ-4 Global Hawk first and then the RQ-180 aircraft. The RQ-180 has been dubbed the ‘Great White Bat’ – and this model is believed to have been spotted over the Philippines in 2021.
After this, a sleek and unobtrusive-looking aircraft appears in a pendant, which seems to match the shape of the SR-71’s successor – dubbed ‘Son of Blackbird’ – the Lockheed SR-72.
The SR-72 is an unmanned hypersonic intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and attack platform.
While little is known about this aircraft, aside from rumors of occasional sightings, the estimated date for a maiden flight is 2025.
The video also shows the outline of the mysterious X-37B spaceplane in a view of what appears to be a command center.
Again, although this model has been kept a secret, there has been speculation that the X-37B is a space-based weapons platform that can be pre-deployed into orbit armed with an armed reentry vehicle. Theories suggest this could be released over or near a specific target.
But most analysts have rejected this theory.
Others believe it can be used as an intelligence gathering platform.
This may include information about signals such as activities of communications and surveillance satellites – both civilian and military.
Analysts believe this is the most realistic explanation.
But these revelations come as US tensions with Russia and China rise in space and on the ground.
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Earlier this week, Russia sent a chilling threat to NATO after warning it could blow up 32 of its satellites.
Russian state television claimed that Moscow’s anti-satellite missiles (ASAT) could destroy NATO satellites, “blinding all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention ground forces”.
The warning was in response to Washington’s “grave concerns” over the build-up of 100,000 Russian troops on the Ukraine-Russian border, with Joe Biden now considering providing Ukraine military assistance.
Russia had already infuriated the US when it conducted an ASAT missile test last week that sent 1,500 pieces of space debris past the International Space Station. This move forced NASA astronauts to hide in their spaceships.
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And tensions between China and the US are also mounting after the US said it would support Taiwan with military backing if Beijing decides to attack.
China has launched into orbit two powerful Gaofen satellites that reportedly have similar optical capabilities to the classified US Keyhole-class spy satellites.
And, worryingly for the US, China and Russia, the alliance in space seems to be getting stronger.
Tracey German, professor of conflict and security for King’s College London, told Express.co.uk: “They have [Russia and China] have already set out plans to collaborate in space and have announced plans to jointly build an international lunar research station earlier this year.
“Since 2014, China has become an increasingly important partner for Russia and has developed a strategic partnership mainly driven by economic and military cooperation, especially arms sales and joint/multilateral military exercises, and China is an important market for Russian gas. ”