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Navy stealth bomber drone  (Source: IBtimes)
Navy stealth drone take to the skies

The Air Force gets a large portion of the funds allotted to military spending in order to develop costly new aircraft programs and to maintain existing aircraft. The Air Force is still in the middle of a bidding process to replace the aging aerial tanker fleet in use, and last September the USAF also announced that a new bomber was critical for the defense of the nation.

When the USAF first mentioned the need for a new bomber the rough outline was for a conventional bomber built on existing technology that would be purchased in larger numbers than the current B-2. The USAF is now scaling back their vision for that aircraft in the face of a tough budget crunchDefense News reports that the Air Force has noted that its plans for the bomber will be less ambitious than it previously envisioned. 

The lowered expectations for the new bomber will allow the USAF to better manage the program and will make it easier for the contractor that builds the aircraft to deliver on their promises.

General Norton Schwartz said, "We're not going to be as ambitious as we perhaps were at one time." He continued, "And that kind of thing will make it easier for us to manage and less challenging for industry to keep their promises."

The Air Force might lower initial costs by making the aircraft easy to upgrade later in its operational life for new capabilities. For instance, the aircraft doesn't need nuclear capability now, but later it might. The bomber would be built with the space needed for wiring and hardening for electromagnetic protection so it can be cheaply upgraded for nuclear payloads. 

While the USAF is being less ambitious about its future bomber, the Navy is hitting a milestone with its new unmanned stealth bomber. The X-47B is a stealth bomber that looks like a shrunken down version of the B-2. The Navy has announced that the aircraft has taken its maiden flight

Capt. Jamie Engdahl, program manager for the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration said, "Today we got a glimpse towards the future as the Navy's first-ever tailless, jet-powered unmanned aircraft took to the skies."

The maiden flight for the X-47B lasted 29 minutes and the aircraft flew at up to 5,000 feet with landing gear down. The flight is the first in a series of 50-flights planned for the year of testing. Once the first plane finishes its testing, the second aircraft will start and after testing is completed the aircraft will be sent to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station for the rest of the carrier demonstration program.

Rear Adm. Bill Shannon, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons said, "We are breaking new ground by developing the first unmanned jet aircraft to take off and land aboard a flight deck. This demonstration program is intended to reduce risk for potential future unmanned systems operating in and around aircraft carriers."

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RE: unmanned bombers
By kingius on 2/11/2011 7:38:27 AM , Rating: 0
How about the defence budget being put to defence instead of conquest? That really will strengthen the western nations instead of bankrupting them. Of course, this is too obvious; if you are in the game of making money from war (as banks are, see history e.g. world war two, and private contractors are) then you need the west to invade other countries, which creates more enemies and pepetuates the wars that you yourself then profit from.

To escape this endless cycle of mindless bloodshed that profits a few, we need to first recognise the problem. Policies built atop paranoia are disastrous for all of us. True peace can only come from mutual understanding and respect; there is no security at the end of a gun, only betrayal and anger.

RE: unmanned bombers
By Manch on 2/11/2011 8:49:53 AM , Rating: 3
there is no security at the end of a gun..

There is if you're the one holding it.

RE: unmanned bombers
By kingius on 2/11/2011 10:44:17 AM , Rating: 2
That's a fallacy.

At the earliest opportunity, the person you are coercing through force will attempt to reverse the nature of that very relationship _because_ of the one sided nature of it.

To understand this, you have to put yourself in the position of someone who is being coerced against their will, at gun point. You will not like it, nor the person doing it to you. You will seek fairness and justice and perhaps revenge.

If you want to live in a world where you don't have to watch your back, you have to wake up to the fact that aggressive actions lead to more, further aggressive actions back at you. There is no safety in such a world, no peaceful cooperation, no mutual respect, instead there is something more akin to barbarism.

RE: unmanned bombers
By nafhan on 2/11/2011 11:13:59 AM , Rating: 2
If the weapon is for security and being used in such manner, then without the weapon you'd already be at the wrong end of the relationship, and the fact that the nature of the relationship may get reversed is irrelevant. Your argument only applies to purely offensive actions, not "security".
Also, how do you propose to keep people from engaging in aggressive actions (or convince them, I guess, since no weapons/force allowed)?

RE: unmanned bombers
By Manch on 2/11/2011 2:35:23 PM , Rating: 3
Not a fallacy, reality.

I have a gun. I dont go around coercing people. I have some for hunting and others for defense/detterence. Sad fact of the matter is their are people in the world who will take from others who can't or aren't willing to defend themselves. We live in a world where you need to watch your back. Wether you're talking about an a community, a state, or a nation, there are people outside and within willing to take regardless of the consequences to themselves or others. Having weapons for the purpose of detterence does not make one a bully, it just makes you prepared and keeps them in check.

Having a gun doesnt make me aggressive. Breaking into my house, or trying to harm me or my family makes me aggressive. Fortunately, I've never had to shoot anybody, and I dread the day if it ever comes. If I have to choose between them or my family, they'll be at bad end of my gun.

If you want to live in a world where you don't have to watch your back, you have to wake up to the fact that detterence prevents aggressive actions that could lead to more further aggressive actions. If someone realizes they can take from you whatever they want, whats to stop them from continuing to take from you?

RE: unmanned bombers
By SPOOFE on 2/12/2011 7:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
At the earliest opportunity, the person you are coercing through force will attempt to reverse the nature of that very relationship _because_ of the one sided nature of it.

If you're dealing with a person who will attack you at the earliest opportunity if you're NOT pointing a gun at him, pointing a gun at him may be the only way to prevent a fight. We must also be prepared to accept that there may be NO way to prevent a fight.

If you want to live in a world where you don't have to watch your back, you have to wake up to the fact that aggressive actions lead to more, further aggressive actions back at you.

That's why Japan is our bitter, bitter enemy and would never consider being one of our best allies and trading partners, right?

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
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