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US Navy’s X-47B Prepares for Maiden Flight

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posted on Jul, 14 2009 @ 01:06 PM

The US Navy is preparing to conduct the first test flight of its X-47B Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAS) at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in November 2009.

The Northrop Grumman-built batwing, tailless and pilotless X-47B is designed for aerial reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting and can be remotely operated over aircraft carriers.

The unmanned combat air system is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at an altitude of 40,000ft carrying an internal load of 4,500lb with a combat radius of 1,500 nautical miles.

Northrop Grumman UCAS programme team lead Tim Beard said that after spending six to eight months of aviation at Edwards’ base the aircraft will fly to Naval Air Station Patuxent Riverin Maryland for testing and flights through November 2011.

“The supplemental testing will be at Naval Air Engineering Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Northrop is planning to put the aircraft aboard a carrier at the Norfolk, Virginia, naval base,” Beard added.

The aircraft is scheduled to start its sea trials in 2011.

Sounds too long, imo. I think they should push it instead of extending and testing all the systems going to many years that could cost more and more. By the time the X47 comes into production it would cost so much that it will be treated like the F22 Raptor and cut off with only a few units even after all the years of testing and procuring.

posted on Jul, 14 2009 @ 02:03 PM
Heres a couple of pictures of the X-47B:

From this article:

And the register has a CGI image of the plane:

They seem to share your worries about the project:

While the Global Hawk boasts an operation range of 13,500 nautical mile range and 36-hour endurance during which it can comfortably "conduct surveillance over an area the size of Illinois" controlled either by line-of-site or satellite-connected operators, it is not expected to deliver 4,500 pounds of ordnance down Osama bin Laden's chimney without hitting the orphanage next door while controlled by a very human operator in an air-conditioned trailer thousands of miles away. It remains to be seen whether DARPA's substantial investment in the X-47B really does provide "revolutionary new air power" or an expensive flying turkey.

From above link.

I was recently watching a program on TV about the future of military aircraft,and the general vibe was that the only remaining restrictive factor in state of the art flight technology is the human body.
If you remove the relativley fragile human body from the equation,your aircraft can perform under massive G forces etc...that was the vibe of the program.
I can also see the advantage of using unmanned drones,as 10 shot down drones would not cause the media uproar of 10 downed manned aircraft.
Good way to protect your highly trained pilots from potential injury.
It makes sense to use unmanned craft if you have the technology.
Saves pilots from high risk situations,but has the negative side effect of relying on potentially poor intel,as we have seen in some of the global hawk incidents in Af/Pak.
No matter what technology is avaliable,acurate target intel will remain just as important.Thats the tough part.

All in all though,I would freekin Love to have a go at flying one of those awesome beasts...few beers,low pass over London,then Zoom under the Eiffel tower...all from the comfort of my computer.
That would be a great night of the news start reporting UFOS..Hehhe

Edit to add:
Heres a CGI video showing the X-47B,flying,recon,bombing,RTB.
From a year or so back made by Northrop Grumman so says the you tube poster:

Looks formidable-Manned fighters against these things would be a turkey shoot...with the Drones doing the shooting.

Just as long as they promise not to sign these things over to the coming AI master computers...

[edit on 14/7/2009 by Silcone Synapse]


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