U.S. Navy Launches First Unmanned X-47B Aircraft from Carrier Flight Deck
May 15, 2013 12:13 PM
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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.
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RE: Carriers Are Obsolete!!!
5/16/2013 5:42:27 PM
unmanned planes from some land base is not power projection. They have no sustainable presence in theater as they are dependent on refueling aircraft and have to circle back to their origin to re-arm. They cannot maintain the operational tempo of a carrier because of the long cycle time back to base.
Refueling aircraft are vulnerable. The base the unmanned planes are controlled from are vulnerable. Heck, even the satellites they may use for communications are vulnerable if it comes that far.
While carriers may not be as fast as planes, they are the fastest ships in the fleet. They can outrace any escorts at top speed across the entire ocean if they need to. If they need to be somewhere quick, they can get there.
Carriers supply fuel to other ships in the fleet. They can act as supply points for humanitarian missions. And in a pinch, can supply electricity to shore facilities in times of infrastructure crisis. I don't understand how you believe they are too inflexible in terms of aircraft they can carry - they're a blank slate - the aircraft in a carrier wing can be of any makeup desired - fighters, bombers, surveillance, ASW, ECM, cargo, SAR, whatever the missions require.
The Air Force requires local air bases to maintain presence. Those must be negotiated with host countries - the Navy brings its air bases with them. No negotiation needed. That's Power Projection.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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