Northrop Grumman’s X-47B, which the new, top-secret RQ-180 is thought to resemble. Courtesy Northrop Grumman

A stealthy new drone built by Northrop Grumman, which does extensive drone development in San Diego, is reportedly operational at an Air Force Base in Northern California.

The respected trade journal Aviation Week & Space Technology reported Wednesday afternoon that the futuristic, flying-wing vehicle, dubbed the RQ-180, is operational with the 427th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beal Air Force Base north of Sacramento.

“There is a growing body of evidence that the stealthy vehicle is now fully operational with the U.S. Air Force in a penetrating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role,” the magazine reported.

According to the report, prototypes have been flying since 2010, and production models are being built at a secret facility in Nevada.

Renderings by Aviation Week & Space Technology showed a sleek flying-wing design similar to the X-47B test drone.

The report did not say where the new drone was designed, but Northrop Grumman is one of the largest employers in San Diego county, with extensive facilities in Rancho Bernardo.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.