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Artist rendering of the X-47B in combat  (Source: Northrop Grumman)

  (Source: Northrop Grumman)

  (Source: Northrop Grumman)
Northtrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy will fly the X-47B in late 2009

The U.S. military is furthering its funding of unmanned vehicles for combat. Just last week, DailyTech reported on the U.S. Army's new SWORDS unmanned robots which roam the Iraqi battlefield carrying M249 machines guns -- and in turn put human soldiers out of harm's way. The military's latest unmanned project leaves the desert behind in order to take to the skies.

The U.S. Navy on Friday awarded Northrop Grumman a six-year, $635.8 million USD contract to further develop the X-47B fixed-wing unmanned air system (UAS). The funding for the Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program will allow Northrop Grumman to conduct take-offs and landings from the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

"We are proud of our legacy of innovation and creativity in developing new combat capabilities and are pleased to be selected to lead this revolutionary advancement in unmanned systems capabilities," said Northrop Grumman's Scott Seymour.

"The UCAS-D award is the culmination of several years of effort with the Navy to show the benefit of melding the capabilities of a survivable, persistent, long-range UCAS with those of the aircraft carrier," continued Northrop Grumman's Gary Ervin. "The UCAS-D program will reduce the risk of eventual integration of unmanned air systems into carrier environments."

Northrop Grumman will build two X47-B aircraft for the U.S. Navy -- the first of which will take flight during the closing months of 2009. The company expects to begin the first carrier landings in 2011.

The X-47B, a sister-ship to the X-47A, has a cruising altitude of 40,000+ feet and a combat radius of 1,500 nautical miles. The stealthy vehicle can carry an internal payload of 4,500 pounds and can travel at high subsonic speeds.



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RE: Love em
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 8/6/2007 11:40:38 AM , Rating: 3
Indeed. Case in point is that these bad boys would be autonomous and not controlled by a human pilot. These things fly and fire on their own, think cruise missile but instead of impacting the target its just a delivery system. An AWACS in the area would be picking targets using the Predator drones and Global Hawk UAV's, then issuing targets and approach vector's to these unmanned bombers that would be lumbering around on station ready to blow something to bits at a moment's notice. Now I also have to note that the new F-22 also posesses the same target picking capability the AWACS does, and can relay it to friendly craft like said Unmanned Bombers. Letting the F-22's patrol the skies looking for enemy aircraft and then issuing attack orders to their large squadron of unmanned bombers in the area who are carrying the heavy ground pounder ordnance.

Ah, good times indeed.


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