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Video: DARPA’s newest X-Plane has been unveiled

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XRQ-73 Shepard render

“DARPA and Northrup Grumman just unveiled a new X-Plane that they want to rush into service to meet what they call ‘an urgent operational need.’ And while they didn’t disclose what that need is, I’ve got my suspicions,” Alex Hollings, Sandboxx News’ Editor-in-Chief and host of Airpower on YouTube, said in his latest video.

Known as the XRQ-73 Shepard, which stands for Series Hybrid Electric Propulsion Aircraft Demonstration, the new design is intended to provide the U.S. military and Intelligence Community with advanced Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

ISR and the situational awareness it provides is one of the most important tools in a commander’s toolkit. The benefit of good situational awareness can be unparalleled when making tactical, operational, and even strategic decisions.

“Despite the prevalence of spy satellites today, the U.S. military is very much reliant on Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, or ISR, aircraft,” Hollings states.

ISR aircraft particularly showed their utility during counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations during the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Special operations forces relied heavily on the use of ISR manned and unmanned aircraft to find, fix, and finish terrorist threats.

What has changed now is that the previous platforms were largely designed to operate in uncontested airspace. Yet, the onset of great power competition with near-peer adversaries like China and Russia means that the U.S. military will now have to use ISR platforms that will be able to survive and perform their mission in contested airspace.

You can watch Alex’s video about the topic above!

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The editorial team at Sandboxx.