RQ-180 allegedly housed at Edwards South Base, may be remotely controlled from Beale Air Force Base?

(CLICK ABOVE FOR ENLARGEMENT – – courtesy, Steve Trimble, Defense Editor, AVIATION WEEK)

According to Steve Trimble, Defense Editor of AVIATION WEEK, this could be the first photo of inside the Air Force Common Mission Control Center (CMCC) at Beale Air Force Base – allegedly taken in February, 2020.

The photo is located here:


What is the significance of this control center?

One of the multiple programs of this center may be a coordinated effort to control RQ-180:

According to Joerg Arnu, webmaster of the world’s largest public information site on Area 51 (Dreamland Resort – http://www.dreamlandresort.com),

“The recently (2019) re-activated 427th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale is likely the unit flying the RQ-180.

That unit co-hosted the opening ceremony of the Common Mission Control Center at Beale in 2019.”

The RQ-180 is presently rumored to be housed at Edwards Air Force Base (South Base).

“It is quite possible that the folks at Beale, from the new control center, fly the RQ-180 remotely out of Edwards South Base.  This is done with Reapers etc. even halfway across the world.

“The newly secured hangar at the north end of the Beale AFB  (photo taken recently by aerial photographer and pilot Gabriel Zeifman):

(Courtesy, Gabriel Zeifman, Tyler Rogoway – – https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/34272/private-pilot-flew-over-americas-premier-spy-plane-base-and-snapped-these-images)

probably houses only one RQ-180 or a pre-production model for local testing and/or hands on training.  The hangar at Beale clearly is too small for even two RQ-180s if they have the dimensions commonly assumed, let alone for an operational unit.  The hangar may or may not be where the new command center is located.”



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The mysterious case of the Air Force’s new strangely modified 737 with a puzzling past


by Tyler Rogoway, THE DRIVE – – June 14, 2020:



The Air Force has a robust fleet of 737s.

Today, nearly all of them are C-40s, which act as executive and priority passenger transports, but they are not totally alone.

For instance, one older NT-43 example that is heavily modified and extremely shy, goes about its shadowy business as an airborne aircraft signature measurement test laboratory.

But by and large, the 737’s role within the Air Force’s stable is well known.

Now a strangely modified 737-700 with a civilian registration, but an Air Force owner, has just emerged and its past is just as murky as its current mission.

The aircraft in question carries a civilian registration number N712JM, which is a bit odd for an aircraft owned by the United States Air Force.  The Boeing jet came to our attention when it showed up at the Santa Maria Public Airport in Southern California.  The images sent to us by an aerospace enthusiast showed the aircraft in detail with its unique, if not crude modifications.  It must be stated that this is a busy public airport and no moves were made to hide the aircraft in question.

It is also a bit interesting that the area has many military base options, but it landed in Santa Maria.  This is not unheard of by any means, military aircraft often use private fixed base operators (FBOs) for refueling and to work out of for basic cross country training and other proficiency flights, but this decision will become a bit more puzzling as the story unfolds below. Also, the witness said the crew was wearing t-shirts and very casual attire – – not your normal buttoned-down Air Force aircrew, by any means.

The 737-73W first flew in 2013, but seven years later, it still wears its green zinc chromate coating that it was delivered with.  Usually, this is immediately stripped and the aircraft is painted before entering service.  I have talked to a number of experts in Boeing airliner products, none of them have ever heard of a Boeing jet wearing its factory coating for so long and it was noted that it appears to be corroding in some areas.

Jon Ostrower, editor-in-chief of the theaircurrent.com, told THE WAR ZONE:

“This is definitely an airplane that never made it to a formal finish you’d expect from a commercial airplane.  The green finish is a protective coating applied to fuselages during manufacturing to protect from scratches and other damage.  It is dissolved during painting.  You can also still see the manufacturing (line) number as well that’s from its original trip down the assembly line.

There’s also quite a bit of instrumentation visible with sensor wiring leading into the cabin through the passenger windows. This type of arrangement points to a flight test setup of some kind.

The plane’s history is also highly puzzling.  It was originally delivered to a Wells Fargo Bank trustee, a common way to hide the true ownership of an aircraft and a financial tool often used by aircraft owners, in 2013.  It stayed this way until April of 2019, when a relatively obscure company named Denmar Technical Services took ownership of it.  The company simply describes itself as “providing our customer with superior radar measurement systems and services” and nothing more on its website.  Note, it says customer, not customers.  They are based in Reno, Nevada, and have relatively minor activity in terms of disclosed government contracts.

The company owned the aircraft for a short period of time, just one year almost to the day, before it was transferred to the USAF.  During this time, and a year before it, there was no flight data we could find under its registration until it showed up in Colorado Springs in March of 2020.

The aircraft appears to have been a resident of Sierra Nevada Corporation at Colorado Springs Airport, which is adjacent to a significant Air Force Base that shares its runways, but the mystery 737 wasn’t being housed there.  SNC is maybe the world’s most known aircraft modification company, especially for unique military applications.  So, a specially modified 737 is literally right up their alley.

The aircraft had taken a handful of local flights in May, likely check flights to test its airworthiness and its modifications, before making the trip from Colorado Springs to Santa Maria on the 12th of June.

With the aircraft on the ground there, it brings us up to the time when the photos were taken.  They show the aircraft with what appears to be wiring and sensors speed-taped all along the fuselage.  The modifications cover nearly the entire length of the airframe and punch through the cabin windows in some areas.  THE WAR ZONE ran these modifications by a number of airliner experts who, at first glance, didn’t notice this particular configuration and found it to be quite unusual.

Things get even more interesting the next day, when the aircraft in question, under the callsign “STING38,’ flew a mission from Santa Maria far out into the SOCAL Range Complex.

This area, which sits off the Baja Peninsula and San Guadalupe Island, is associated with long-range missile tests and carrier strike group workups, not common test flights of 737s.  It was just highly active for the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group’s COMPUTEX training, which occurs just prior to deployment.  It is a remote and quiet place to also test new capabilities far from areas where they could interfere with populated areas, especially in terms of radio frequency-related trials.

The 737s flight lasted roughly five hours.  Whatever it did out there required substantial presence over the area.

So, what the heck is this thing up to?  We really have no idea.  Is it testing a new electronic surveillance measures suite for large aircraft?  The sensors placed around the aircraft would make sense as these systems use interferometry to geolocate emitters, such as active radars and other air defense nodes, as well as communications systems.  What about some sort of conformal communications system?  Or was this something totally different, like to evaluate 737 airframe durability or some other sort of aerodynamic testing?  That would seem odd considering the details we know about this aircraft shadowy ownership, but it is entirely possible.

Some notes on the aircraft’s ownership:

The Air Force technically owns the fleet of ‘Janet Airlines’ 737-600s that move folks around to Area 51, Tonopah Test Range Airport, and other sensitive sites.  Apparently, Denmar has done some modifications to ‘Janet’ aircraft in the past, although that was one of the King Airs that are known to move around smaller numbers of people that work at clandestine sites around the American Southwest.  Also, this aircraft is a 737-700, not a 600, and the Janets are registered to Hill AFB, not Bolling AFB like N712JM.

It’s also worth noting that Bolling AFB is home to the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), and it appears that the registered address of this aircraft is the exact same address of the RCO.  The RCO heads up cutting-edge high-stakes programs such as the X-37B spaceplane and the B-21 Raider stealth bomber.  As such, using a 737 to test a new subsystem that is destined for an aircraft like the B-21 would be right within their purview.

Then again, this could be something else entirely, either more mundane or far more exotic, but whatever it is, it is definitely unique, because this aircraft has a life and origin like no other testbed aircraft we know of.

As such, at least for now, N712JM remains very much an enigma.



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The utmost cruelty of Juan de Oñate, New Mexico’s first governor (1598 – 1610)

Juan de Oñate y Salazar (1550–1626) was a Spanish conquistador from Mexico (then known as New Spain), explorer, and colonial governor of the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México  (present day New Mexico)  in the viceroyalty of New Spain.  He led early Spanish expeditions to the Great Plains and Lower Colorado River Valley, encountering numerous indigenous tribes in their homelands there.  Oñate founded settlements in the province, now in the Southwestern United States.

Today Oñate is known for the 1599 Acoma Massacre.  Following a dispute that led to the death of thirteen Spaniards at the hands of the Ácoma, including Oñate’s nephew, Juan de Zaldívar, Oñate ordered a brutal retaliation against Acoma Pueblo.  The Pueblo was destroyed.  Around 800–1000 Ácoma were killed.

Of the 500 or so survivors, at a trial at Ohkay Owingeh, Oñate sentenced most to twenty years of forced “personal servitude” and additionally mandated that all men over the age of twenty-five have a foot cut off.  He was eventually banished from New Mexico and exiled from Mexico City for five years, convicted by the Spanish government of using “excessive force” against the Acoma people.

Today, Oñate remains a controversial figure in New Mexican history:

In 1998 the right foot was cut off a statue of the conquistador that stands in Alcalde, New Mexico in protest of the massacre, and significant controversy arose when a large equestrian statue of Oñate was erected in El Paso, Texas in 2006.

On June 15, 2020, the statue of Oñate in Alcalde, New Mexico was temporarily removed by Rio Arriba County workers at the direction of officials.  Appropriate civic institutions will make the final decision on the statue’s future.


Juan de Oñate  (also known as Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar, 1550 – 1626)  was a famous Spanish explorer, conquistador and colonial governor who played a critical role in the exploration of the North American territories that are today part of American Southwest.  His most remembered exploits are visits to the Great Plains, Lower Colorado River Valley, claiming of territories in New Mexico and encountering of the many local Native American cultures  (some who entered into fierce combat against him and his strict rule).  Many historians refer to him as “The Last Conquistador”.

The Early life of Juan de Oñate started in the city of Zacatecas in today’s Mexico (then known as New Spain).  He was the son of the Spanish-Basque colonist, silver mine owner, and conquistador Cristóbal de Oñate, and mother Doña Catalina Salazar y de la Cadena.  Juan de Oñate married Isabel de Tolosa Cortés de Moctezuma, granddaughter of the most famous conquistador of all time Hernán Cortés, who destroyed the Aztec empire.

At the age of 48, Juan de Oñate started his career of exploration and colonization of unexplored lands deeper into the North American continent.  The first journey away from New Mexico started in 1598 when he crossed the Rio Grande and started colonizing land and spreading Roman Catholicism to local natives.  He encountered Pueblo Indians, founded Province of Santa Fe, and fought in the large battle at Acoma against Pueblo People who did not want to hand over their entire winter supplies to Oñate’s expedition.  In that battle, Oñate killed over 800 men, women, and children, and has enslaved remaining 500  (of which all men over 25 were punished with amputation of the left foot).

Next big expedition of Juan de Oñate started in 1601 when he set his sights on Great Plains.  With the party of 130 experienced soldiers, 12 priests, and a retinue of servants, he started his quest to find the legendary city of gold.  Of course, he did not find it, but he encountered Apache people, traveled to Oklahoma, visited Escanjaques people, described the first encounter of tall grass prairie of central North America, and toward the end of the journey he encountered Rayados peoples, whose Chief Caratax led Oñate’s party across the land that was known to him.  At the journey home, Juan de Oñate was involved in a large battle against Escanjaques people.

The final expedition of Juan de Oñate was focused on the Colorado River and involved only the small part of around 30 to 40 people.  They traveled between the Rio Grande to the Gulf of California in 4 months, managing to bring back accounts of the area and suggestions about the establishment of a port in the Gulf of California.

In 1606, his days of exploration and land conquering ended after he was forced to return to Mexico City for hearing about his extreme cruelty to both natives and colonists.  He was not jailed but eventually traveled back to Spain where he received the post of head of all mining inspectors by the order of Spanish King.  He died in 1626, remembered by some by his important exploration efforts, and by many as cruel man who killed and tortured indiscriminately.

A’ho !!:

(additional version):

Juan de Oñate y Salazar – – Spanish Conquistador

A Spanish conquistador, Juan de Oñate y Salazar established the colony of New Mexico for Spain and became New Mexico’s first governor.

Born about 1550, probably in Zacatecas, Mexico, his parents were Spanish-Basque colonists and silver mine owners.  His father, Cristobal de Oñate, was a conquistador, colonial official, and silver baron, who founded the city of Guadalajara, Mexico in 1531. His mother was Dona Catalina Salazar y de la Cadena.  Juan de  Oñate grew up to marry Isabel de Tolosa Cortes de Moctezuma, the granddaughter of Hernan Cortes.

After the 1588 defeat of his Armada, Spain’s King Philip II was eager to reestablish his country’s prestige and hoping to repeat the exploits of Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro, ordered the viceroy of New Spain to organize an expedition to seek and colonize a rich civilization thought to lie north of Mexico.  Another objective was to spread Roman Catholicism and establish new missions.

In 1595, the viceroy selected Juan de Oñate y Salazar to lead and finance the expedition.  Despite Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s failure to find golden cities of Cibola a half a century earlier, Oñate believed that he would find Gran Quivira.  Oñate began the expedition in January 1598 with 400 settlers and soldiers, and their livestock.  The expedition crossed the Rio Grande at the present-day El Paso, Texas and on April 30, 1598, he claimed all of New Mexico for Spain.  That summer his party continued up the Rio Grande to present-day northern New Mexico, where he encamped near the Tewa pueblo of San Juan and were helped by the local Indians.  Oñate’s group built San Gabriel, New Mexico’s first capital and became the province’s first governor.  He also sent exploring parties westward to the vicinity of present-day Flagstaff, Arizona, and eastward to the vicinity of present-day Amarillo, Texas.  After they realized that the area was not rich in silver, many settlers wanted to return to Mexico, but Oñate would not let them go and executed many of them.  He was also incredibly brutal to the local Indians, killing, enslaving, and mutilating hundreds of men, women, and children.

In 1601, Oñate himself led an exploration to find Quivira.  In June his party followed the Canadian River eastward across the Texas Panhandle, entering Oklahoma, then northeast toward the Wichita Indian villages at the junction of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers, near present Wichita, Kansas.  Like Coronado, he found only mud huts and hostile American Indians, and his disappointed troupe returned to New Mexico.  While he was gone, most of his settlers returned to Mexico City.

Still determined,  Oñate made his most ambitious expedition in 1605, following the Colorado River from near the Grand Canyon to the Gulf of California.  When he returned to New Mexico in 1606, he found the colony in disarray.  Later in 1606, due to continuing problems in the colony and mounting debt, Spain removed him from office and replaced him with Don Pedro de Peralta.

In 1609 he witnessed the founding of Santa Fe.  In 1613, he traveled to Mexico City to defend himself against long-standing charges of mismanagement.  There, he found himself charged with cruelty, immorality, mismanagement, dereliction of duties, and false reporting.  He was fined and was banished from New Mexico for life and from Mexico City for four years.  A short time later, he returned to Spain to clear his name and upon appeal, he was cleared of the charges.

Onate, sometimes called the “Last Conquistador,” died on June 3, 1626, in Spain.  Gaspar Perez de Villagra, a captain of the expedition, chronicled Onate’s conquest of New Mexico’s indigenous peoples in his epic Historia de Nuevo Mexico from 1610.

A’ho !!:


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USAF – – AI-powered “Skyborg” drones could fly as early as 2023

May 20, 2020 | By Rachel S. Cohen, AIR FORCE MAGAZINE



The Air Force is getting its Skyborg wingman drone program underway, reaching out to industry for technology that could lead to a future experimentation campaign.

Multiple companies could each win $400 million to contribute technology toward a best-of-breed Skyborg drone, the service said in a May 15 solicitation.  Skyborg is envisioned as an artificially intelligent unmanned partner for fighter jets that is cheaper than more complex aircraft but can take on some strike and intelligence-collection missions for human pilots.

The Air Force indicated that companies whose designs aren’t initially chosen could still be wrapped into the program later. It also creates a stepping stone to a more advanced kind of aircraft: Later solicitations could look for a “prototype of a full autonomous system” as well as new sensors and mission software.

“The intent of Skyborg is to integrate an autonomy mission system core and suite of services  (developed under a separate Skyborg system design agent program)  with multiple low-cost air vehicle systems, each designed to perform one or more mission types,” the solicitation said.  “The Skyborg core will be a best-of-breed combination of industry and government solutions. … This system will allow rapid software updates and integration of new technology to field capabilities to defeat emerging threats.”

LEIDOS on May 19 received a $28.6 million contract to act as the system design agent that will tie the various ideas together.

The notice did not offer any additional details about experimentation, but said the first request for proposals after seed money is awarded in July will look to buy aircraft for those demonstrations.

BOEING, GENERAL ATOMICS, KRATOS, and LOCKHEED MARTIN recently told Air Force Magazine they would compete for development funding.  KRATO’s XQ-58A Valkyrie, developed with the Air Force Research Laboratory, is already in flight testing and will participate in an upcoming Advanced Battle Management System demonstration.

Skyborg is one of three AFRL “vanguard” initiatives that are trying to speed the time it takes to go from research to operational use.  The service has said it wants Skyborg ready for operations by the end of 2023.



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