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X-47B in Flight  (Source: Northrop)

X-47 from Below  (Source: Northrop)
The flight is part of expanded envelope for the program

The military is using robots for bomb discovery/disposal and for carrying equipment for forces in the field. The military is also moving to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to help patrol skies and keep human soldiers safe from unnecessary risks.
The last new UAV we talked about for the Navy was back in December of 2010 when the X-47B demonstrator first appeared. That unmanned X-47B demonstrator has hit a new milestone that is very important. The demonstrator has made its first flight with its landing gear retracted in cruise configuration.
During the flight, which took place from Edwards Air Force Base, the precision navigation hardware and software was validated. This is the software and hardware that will allow the fighter to land on the deck of a moving ship.

"Last week's flight gave us our first clean look at the aerodynamic cruise performance of the X-47B air system…and it is proving out all of our predictions," said Janis Pamiljans, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "Reaching this critical test point demonstrates the growing maturity of the air system, and its readiness to move to the next phase of flight testing."

The flight was part of the expanded envelop of the first two X-47B aircraft that were built by Northrop Grumman for the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program. The X-47B is set to start carrier testing in 2012.
The design of the X-47B allows for attack missions with low observability, and the aircraft uses no tail, looking like a combination of the F-117 Nighthawk and the B-2 Spirit.

Source: Northrop Grumman

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RE: Dog fights?
By Cr0nJ0b on 10/11/2011 8:00:11 PM , Rating: 3
I wasn't ever really considering an unmanned fighter drone...I was always thinking of a remote controlled plane with a pilot at the helm.

Great feedback, by the way, but I still don't see why the military isn't investing in this area more. It would seem that if the issue is just situational awareness, that's just more avionics, cameras and pilot training. I'm sure that there are more than a few hardened Battlefield 2 pilots willing to give it a try. As I read the responses it just made me think that we are entering a new era, where things like "seat of the pants" flying will be exchanged for other remote pilot abilities that will be learned. I mean if you can surpass the adversary's turn rate by 30% or more with a new design, then maybe that will make way for new tactics that have never been considered...and the only way to learn those tactics would be to start flying them now.

RE: Dog fights?
By mindless1 on 10/12/2011 1:26:00 AM , Rating: 2
I suspect that if we faced a sufficiently advanced enough enemy that we needed any of this tech (or found it cost effective), even if they could not gain control of the craft it would still be trivial to them to use spread spectrum blocking of any RF remote control at least enough to neuter the threat...

maybe not during the first combat but soon enough it would be a priority they solved.

RE: Dog fights?
By lightfoot on 10/12/2011 12:42:06 PM , Rating: 2
The X-47 is not a remote controlled aircraft. It is an autonomous UAV drone. This craft should be able to complete its entire mission under a complete radio blackout.

The X-47 can take off, fly to the target, destroy the target, return and land without any human intervention.

I'm not sure why you think it is remote controlled.

RE: Dog fights?
By mindless1 on 10/12/2011 9:30:10 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm... Maybe you need some sleep, I replied directly to someone who wrote "I wasn't ever really considering an unmanned fighter drone...I was always thinking of a remote controlled plane with a pilot at the helm."

RE: Dog fights?
By lightfoot on 10/12/2011 11:55:32 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you're right.

I mistook your stance as why it couldn't be done, not why it can be done.

All the talk of Remote Control and Radio Frequency jamming and I missed the part where we were all in agreement.

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