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Did Google Earth Spot a Top-Secret, Damaged Drone Near Air Force Plant 42?

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"...it's possible this could be anything from a mock-up to a failed design."

Some say the best place to hide something is in plain view. This sentiment could hold true unless the object in hiding is a drone at the U.S. Air Force's Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., and a satellite is flying overhead.

According to the blog Open Source GEOINT, an unknown unmanned aerial vehicle was spotted near the USAF Plant 42 at Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Program Facility (Skunk Works). Open Source GEOINT writes "the signature above does not conform to any known UAV, it's possible this could be anything from a mock-up to a failed design. (However, if it were a mock-up, why would LM feel the need to cover it?)."

Some of the commenters on the post have likened it to the RQ-170 Sentinel, although the wingspan could be too wide. One even says it appears to be broken. Wired's Danger Room reports aviation journalist David Cenciotti saying he think's "it's a Sentinel" and "a damaged one."

Wired goes on to speculate that the drone could also be the P.420 "drone bomber" for which Lockheed received a patent in the 1990s.

Given that it was just left out in the open for any passing satellite to see, Wired reports two anonymous "drone-industry insiders" saying if Lockheed really valued the equipment, "it wouldn’t be sitting there like it is."

Many have also pointed out the irony of the drone photo being taken on Dec. 4, 2011, as it is the same day a Sentinel drone was captured by Iranians.

This isn't the first time Google Earth has revealed interesting and potentially secret structures from world military organizations. It has revealed other U.S. military bases as well, and last year, the Blaze reported strange aerial structures being seen in China by Google's satellites.

(H/T: Business Insider)

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