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Found: A Secret Drone Base In Nevada

by John Reed on December 8, 2011

Well, as the U.S. withdraws from its UAV base at Shamshi, Pakistan, it looks like a new secret drone base has been discovered. Where? In the most cliched place imaginable, the Department of Energy’s Yucca airstrip located inside the massive Nevade Test Site — you know the federal land reserve that was used for nuclear testing; the one that sits inside the Air Force’s Nevada Test and Training Range which is home to Area 51, Tonopah Test Range Airport (where the RQ-170 Sentinel is based), and Creech Air Force Base.

The image above shows what appears to be an MQ-9 Reaper UAV sitting on the ramp at Yucca right near some very-new looking hangar buildings. According to Flight Global, the DoE’s Yucca airstrip has long been suspected of being a secret CIA facility. That’s something I haven’t heard before but it would explain the new buildings despite the fact that underground atomic weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site ended in 1992. Furthermore, there are rumors that the Desert Rock airstrip, located about 20 miles south of Yucca near the closed off town of Mercury, Nevada, has been used as a CIA facility.

Now, this may not be a CIA site. That could be an Air Force drone on the ramp or even one of the Department of Homeland Security’s Reapers sitting down there. Heck, it could even be a privately-operated (General Atomics) drone doing government contract work. The only things we can tell are the facts that the facility looks like it was recently rennovated and that there is indeed a UAV taxiing to the runways.

Click through the jump to explore the base on Google Maps.

View Larger Map

Well done to the guys at Flight.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Gregory Savage December 8, 2011 at 11:35 am

If' it's a secret why are we posting it on a defense site?


dan December 8, 2011 at 11:46 am

Stuff that – Fars news is now showing extensive video of what puports to be an apparently completely undamaged RQ-170!


blight December 8, 2011 at 11:54 am
Nicholas Mcdonald December 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Love the spelling:

"This aircraft is controlled and guided through satellite link and land stations in Afghanistan and the Untied States."


McPosterdoor December 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Oh they would love nothing better than to untie the united states we live in. Unraveled like so many Persian rugs, total spell check propaganda. What a bunch of jerks. Also what clown wears a military ball cap? Is he stealing third at his slow pitch softball league after the presser?


Juuso December 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm

You get butt hurt too easily.

dan December 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm

No, there's a a 21/2 minute video presentation at


Ruger December 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Crop job gone bad! The depth issues of the "photo" hurt my eyes.


blight December 8, 2011 at 11:52 am
Ryan December 9, 2011 at 12:09 am

Good question. Looks like several containers in each pit. And the shape of the pits is unique, it must serve some purpose. I guess the crane is used to lower the objects into the pits from the side?


FormerDirtDart December 9, 2011 at 1:39 am

Likely temporary storage of nuclear waste that was destined for internment at the now cancelled Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository


blight December 9, 2011 at 9:56 am

Looking on Wikimapia, it seems to suggest that it is related to the Nevada Test Site cleanup.


McPosterdoor December 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The Fars article shows a desert colored drone instead of the grey color in the 'beast of Kandahar' photos. You think that would indicate it was planning on flying low altitude to avoid radar as well? Seems like it would be easier to visualize in the air opposed to the grey. The grill over the intake looks like it was constructed in two pieces, that kinda seems weird for how sleek the rest of the design is. Is this Iran fabricated for the photos (kinda like their 'SA-300' oil drums they paraded around Tehran)?


Ruger December 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Agreed. Please refer to my post above.


Juuso December 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm

That grill only looks like it was made from two pieces. If you look other pictures from above, you can see that it’s a single piece.


Patrick Busche December 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm

In view of my ground-pounder background (meaning I virtually don't know shit about aviation), unless there is a scale of reference on this map (map legend) how is an observer able to tell if this is a drone or in fact a manned sortie?


Zap December 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I thought the RQ-170 Sentinel are now based in Iran http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vorWHmk38yE&fe

hohoho merry Christmas


Morty December 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm

If Its So secret why is it on google


tiger December 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Google has access to commercial spy sats.


Lance December 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Haw finally President Obama has a new way to fight Illegal immigration. LOL


Morty December 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Not cool man


Cog December 8, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Is it possible that this is a launch point for Border Patrol UAVs?


Rabbit December 9, 2011 at 12:48 am

More importantly, why do all the drone bases have to be in Nevada?


tiger December 9, 2011 at 10:04 am

This is what Area 51 really does. Remote, secret, a short hop from Vegas. Not a bad 9-5 gig. Wake up, get dressed, fly a mission, at 5pm hit the Strip & the blackjack tables.


blight December 9, 2011 at 10:06 am

Same with test pilots and the engineers who work at Groom Dry Lake.


Pat December 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

It's Sen. Reed's state and his speeches drone on and on.


blight December 9, 2011 at 11:11 am

It's more to do with Creech. It's also close to General Atomic's WW2 ex-AAF test field in El Mirage (Gray Butte). Proximity to the premiere UAV mfrs, concealed inside the Nevada Test Site and out of the way of the manned aircraft testing complex at Edwards AFB, yet close enough to tap into their expertise if required.

Why move from NTS? It's a good place to be. Not sure what Harry Reid has to do with it. The other senator of NV is Dean Heller, a republican. o wat u say?


@zandnews December 9, 2011 at 2:14 am


Answer this one: Why is it that every post's comment page in this website works beside the one about the captured US drone by the Iranians?

I believe it is the owner of this website who choose to disrupt the comment page!



Robert December 9, 2011 at 11:31 am

Just another base

So they have some UAV no problem.

Not subject to budget cut.




robertro2 December 9, 2011 at 11:50 am



Vicki Smith December 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm

As a Private pilot, and a Citizen of Nevada, this sort of thing really bothers me. Not only does it show that the US Military and military equipment is being used against American Citizens- it presents a real danger to pilots. A remote person who is controlling this, will NOT be able to see or avoid a private airplane. Just another excuse to ban private aircraft, I guess.


blight December 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Private aircraft are already banned in the Nevada Test Site area. If they want to fly these suckers outside of it, then I imagine their options are to file flight plans, or to check who has been filing flight plans and simply attempt to fly the RPVs to avoid them.


dirkastan February 6, 2012 at 6:01 am

Actually that looks more like a U2 being towed to me than a drone. I'm currently at a U2 base, so I know one when I see it. However, it is a pretty blurry image. Also, if it was secret, it would be blacked out similar to how North Korea is, have a look at that on google. You guys will munch on anything.


billy bob February 6, 2012 at 6:06 am
kae78 May 9, 2013 at 6:35 am

Scaled next to the U2s at Beale AFB the vehicles are definitly much smaller so likely drones.


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McPosterdoor December 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm

is joke


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