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While X-47B is for non-operational use, its precision navigation algorithms will be used to create the first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft

The United States Navy launched an unmanned aircraft from a modern carrier flight deck for the first time ever Tuesday. 

The unmanned aircraft was the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator, and its first-ever launch from a modern aircraft carrier represents how manned and unmanned aircraft on carrier flight decks will be merged in the future.

A mission operator aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) controlled X-47B, showing off how well it works within a carrier environment. It landed back at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. 

"This historic event challenges the paradigm of manned carrier landings that were first conducted more than 90 years ago," said Rear Adm. Mat Winter. "In that challenge though, comes a respect and admiration for all those naval aviators – past and present – that have ensured the value of the Navy aircraft carrier/carrier air wing team.

"The addition of unmanned aviation to this formidable, power projection team provides a complementary capability, which will ensure carrier naval aviation remains viable and relevant for decades to come. It also shows our collective readiness within naval aviation to embrace these future opportunities to move forward with unmanned carrier aviation. 

"This is a big deal!"

While X-47B is for non-operational use, its precision navigation algorithms will be used to create the first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft.

That future aircraft is expected to feature "24/7 carrier-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and targeting capability" which will operate with manned aviation assets.

Source: Navy Live

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RE: Carriers Are Obsolete!!!
By wbwarren57 on 5/16/2013 10:31:26 AM , Rating: 0
No, I'm afraid it doesn't.

From 1906 when the keel of the South Carolina was laid down, until 2006 when the Wisconsin was struck from the naval register, the US lost only three (3) battleships as a result of enemy action: the Arizona, the Utah, and the Oklahoma (which was lost at sea on its way to being scrapped after the attach on Pearl Harbor). From 1927 when the first US carrier was introduced until today, the US has lost seven (7) fleet carriers. Based on these numbers alone, should we bring back the battleship?

Like battleships, carriers are just tools that only make sense as long as there is no other technology or combination of technologies that can do the same job cheaper, better, and faster. Given that long endurance pilotless aircraft are now coming out, I'm afraid that the remaining days of supremacy for the current generation of very large aircraft carriers can now be counted and that we should be planing for their retirement - probably in the next decade. My concern is that the US Navy will hold onto their "classic" large carriers much longer than they should at the cost of a huge amount of wasted dollars and lives - just as an earlier generation of US Navy admirals held onto the battleship.

RE: Carriers Are Obsolete!!!
By StormyKnight on 5/16/2013 11:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
Battleships were made obsolete by Aircraft Carriers. Aircraft Carriers could strike from beyond the horizon where a Battleship could not. We have not lost an Aircraft Carrier since the end of WWII. In the several conflicts we've been in, Aircraft Carriers have proved invaluable to placing strike capability within days of where they are needed. There is nothing that has made the Aircraft Carrier obsolete and definitely nothing that will replace a human in a cockpit of a combat aircraft. Wherever you're are getting your lives lost because of Aircraft Carriers, I can't pretend to know or understand unless you are referring to the enemy.

RE: Carriers Are Obsolete!!!
By FaaR on 5/17/2013 6:04:14 AM , Rating: 2
How many times, post-WWII, have US aircraft carriers actually been shot at? (Rethorical.) ...Maybe that's more the reason that none have been lost. ;)

That carriers have proven invaluable in the past is undisputed; however that is not proof that they will continue to be so also in the future - which is changing constantly with development of new technology.

The military abandoned horses at one point, even though those too had previously been invaluable. Aircraft carriers will undoubtedly meet the same fate at some point, and only the rigid non-visionary will fail to acknowledge this inevitable fact.

RE: Carriers Are Obsolete!!!
By StormyKnight on 5/19/2013 4:53:29 AM , Rating: 2
The United States Navy constantly evolves technologically as well as strategically. As threats present themselves, countermeasures are made. Will the aircraft carrier become obsolete? Possibly. We have a long way to go before that happens. I can't see into the future, but I believe aircraft carriers will be around a good long time.

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