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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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By Relion on 8/6/2007 12:17:28 PM , Rating: -1
Nice....more instruments for killing people !!! This is just a BS business and you know it...the cool factor does not excludes the fact that war is a big business and killing people generates a lot of $$$$ for a few ppl (including your president)

RE: Nice
By Moishe on 8/6/2007 1:16:01 PM , Rating: 2
I guess if you want to ignore all of the positive elements of conflict and throw around wild unfounded accusations... then yes, you're right!

RE: Nice
By FITCamaro on 8/6/2007 1:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yes our president is making millions off the pray tell? While I'm sure Bush has investments in various corporations same as every other politician on Capitol Hill, he owns no corporations involved in the Iraq war nor is he even tied to any through a past employment relationship. Cheney has a past relationship with Halliburton since he owned them but I really could care less that the contract went to an American company instead of the French.

Yes the defense industry is a big business but thats true regardless of whether we are at war or not.

And unlike those we're fighting right now, the only people we kill are those who try to kill us. We don't drive dump trucks into towns and blow them up and kill almost 20 kids. Yes there have been accidents where civilians have been killed in Iraq by US forces but we, unlike the terrorists, are sorry for them and do everything we can to prevent them. If you add up all the civilian deaths caused by the US in Iraq you have less than 100. The other 50,000 or however high the number has gone is all them killing each other in their own political and religious infighting. And that killing was going on long before we got there. We're trying to stop it, not encourage it.

RE: Nice
By Relion on 8/6/2007 5:30:39 PM , Rating: 2
Have you ever heard of "Carlyle Group"

RE: Nice
By Ringold on 8/6/2007 5:44:41 PM , Rating: 2
Typical. Avoid the entire bulk of the argument to make a single one-line statement that, to liberals, expresses some sort of truism, but to the rest just shows that one doesn't understand what they're talking about.

If defense firms were printing money, you could do almost as well as them by buying the common stock.

RE: Nice
By Relion on 8/6/2007 5:53:39 PM , Rating: 2
Get used to it. I won't elaborate much on topics I'd think people know about...think about it pal ... $600+ million dollars ... US hasn't yet enough military power yet? Do you really need to expend that ? Does the people of the united states want that ? Or is it just a few that want ? You can call it just a line and that I am avoiding...I may call it I just want people to think....or if you prefer to avoid thinking...that's not my problem. I'd love to see that money "wasted" on better things like health or education.

RE: Nice
By SirLucius on 8/6/2007 5:59:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the United States should stop all military development since we're currently on top. Let's just ignore the other countries that are rapidly developing - we're set right now. Sure, health care and education are important, but don't you think that being able to defend and assert oneself with minimal loss is just as neseccary?

RE: Nice
By Relion on 8/6/2007 6:14:20 PM , Rating: 2
Ok I lose....nothing can be done...let the power hungry finish us off...there's no way we can stop this...there has to be an endless weaponry development until...well...maybe until the strongest and "smartest" says...enough of it...this is getting us nowhere...there has to be someone to say stop in a's not that different in this kind of matters...the example should be given...but it seems we won't see it from this government at least. And I .. well I am stopping here ... the one that wants to understand do so ... the one that does not... do so ... that is life.

RE: Nice
By stromgald on 8/6/2007 6:33:08 PM , Rating: 3
It's pretty clear you're running because you don't have an argument.

Ok I lose....nothing can be done...let the power hungry finish us off...there's no way we can stop this...

Who has the US 'finished' off? Japan maybe? Afghanistan? I don't see it. If you're saying the U.S. is still building up to take over the world, you should realize that the US is spending less of it's total income on the military than ever before.

Military development is the primary motivator for innovation. Why do you think technological development was so great in the 20th century? You wouldn't have computers, velcro, kevlar, cell phones, and a ton of other things, which are benefitting all of humanity if it weren't for military spending.

If you think someone needs to be the 'bigger' man and put down their arms first, go convince the Chinese government or the Arab militias in the middle east, because the US government won't do it. And it's not because of Bush, Cheney, or the Republicans. The US government won't stop military development because they are responsible for the protection fo 200+ million people.

RE: Nice
By Relion on 8/7/2007 11:56:57 AM , Rating: 2
I was not running away from the discussion...I had to go know family and that stuff...I seems the point I touched bothered someone since my comments worths a -1 to my the same rating a kid gets for saying first at the threads...I won't post anymore since it is pretty pointless with that rating no one will pay attention...may be that's exactly what is intended...Anyway I wanted to point out some final things that you may deny but they still there and are real 1. United States spend millions of dollars yearly for military efforts and it is a shame that that money doesn't go anywhere else. 2. United States are invaders, they don't care about international laws, they just care about them and no the other countries (Invading Irak for oil is proffitable, sugar is not that much) 3. War is a big business, for some people...for the most it just mean losing parents, kids, friends, etc...on both sides....The war debts pay well too. 4. meh...I'm not losing more time here...-1 rating wow

RE: Nice
By rcc on 8/7/2007 3:03:56 PM , Rating: 1
1. United States spend millions of dollars yearly for military efforts and it is a shame that that money doesn't go anywhere else.

It's billions dude. Times have changed. As Representative Robert Harper said, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute".
Bottom line, we've been kicked around enough over the years that we refuse to play second fiddle to anyone. But, if you can convince everyone else to scale back, you'll find us very much willing to spend that money in other areas.

2. United States are invaders, they don't care about international laws, they just care about them and no the other countries (Invading Irak for oil is proffitable, sugar is not that much)

Hmmm, I suppose you could make this point, in the case of Iraq. Although regardless of how you feel about the whole issue, Saddam was in violation of international law and the mandates of the UN. We did something about it, with our allies. The fact that the UN didn't have the intestinal fortitude to back up their demands, and wouldn't back the US up when we did, is a different matter.

As far as "Invading Iraq for oil" goes? I'm paying more for gas and fuel oil now than at anytime in history, plus or minus a few cents, so please feel free to show me the profit. Not party lines, not platitudes, show me the profit.

3. War is a big business, for some people...for the most it just mean losing parents, kids, friends, etc...on both sides....The war debts pay well too.

I'm tired of being polite to holier than thou morons. Go pound sand. If you want to blame corporations for starting the way, go for it, and bitch at them. Losing loved ones is always tragic, we are doing it too. There is hope for a better future, but the past of the people you are talking about was no better, substantially worse, in fact.

So, just for the record, which heaven sent, peaceable, people loving country are you from? I must have missed that part of your equitable, mind opening discussion.

Best of luck.

RE: Nice
By Relion on 8/7/2007 6:05:16 PM , Rating: 2
Costa Rica

RE: Nice
By tatoruso on 8/24/2007 4:03:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote: computers, velcro, kevlar, cell phones, and a ton of other things....
Does that make the world a better place?
Please tell me where do you get that?! there are more hungry people than ever all over the world, and if the USA is soooo strong and correct, then what the hell are they doing messing with other country´s business? USA Should get the hell out of Irak just because it´s a direct contradiction to the ideals they say they have...
How do u justify 3000+ dead americans over a few hundreds that died at 9/11?
The expenses? the dead iraquis? do you think that "feeling sorry for them" is any good? AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE INTERNATIONAL BULLIES!!!!!
And no, I´m not saying that Iraquis have a better government... what I say is that common people like all of us should emerge anda rise from all the BS that the media and the people incharge feed us and look for a better world in which finally ideals of love and peace could emerge and flourish....
Cant everybody see that, in the same manner the palestinian are convinced of becoming a human bomb "for their reigion/life/beliefs" also the americans are being convinced of INVADING other peoples countrys, killing them, and force upon them the unstoppable and ever-hungry capitalism?

quote "they are responsible for the protection fo 200+ million people."
how come the war has killed more americans than the terrorists attacks that allegedly provoked it?
Anybody who has at least a bit of a soul, a heart, a mind, cannot be in favor of War.

RE: Nice
By stromgald on 8/6/2007 6:22:49 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize that the percentage that the US government has spent on the military has overall decreased steadily since WWII? The total dollar value might be increasing slowly, but the percentage has dropped significantly. It was close to 40% during World War II, small peak at 9.4% during Vietnam, and is now at 3.7%. Much more than 3.7% are being spent on medicare and social security.

$600 million sounds like alot, until you put it in the context of a $2.4 trillion budget. Learn to put your statistics in perspective instead of spouting FUD.

RE: Nice
By GeeSussFreeK on 8/7/2007 9:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think you are looking at apples to apples with that kind of comparison. The budget has become much more social welfare programs in it with inflate the budget drastically. Just because defense is a lower percentage of the budget then ever before doesn't mean that it isn't still very costly.

RE: Nice
By GeeSussFreeK on 8/7/2007 9:47:29 AM , Rating: 2
sorry for the bad grammar, that is supposed to read "The budget has become more inflated with social welfare programs" But I think you can get the basic idea of what I said.

Wasn't the first appropriation on the order of magnitude of 400 billion dollars? Not the actual fighting, the reconstruction. That is a huge chuck of change that doesn't seem to be polled into the cost of war but the calculator monkeys.

RE: Nice
By stromgald on 8/7/2007 11:48:54 AM , Rating: 2
Good point. A significant amount of money spent in Iraq might not be represented in the actual 'defense' category of the budget. However, it's pretty hard to tell how much is accounted for elsewhere. Stupid accountants :-P.

I'm not saying whether or not we should be spending more or less on Iraq. I'm just objecting to the arguments that 1) the US is spending too much on the military and not enough on health and welfare based on a $636 million expenditure, and 2) the "high" military spending is motivated by a select few. That $6.36 million is less than 0.03% of the national budget. I don't think the US people have a problem with the government spending 5% of the budget on military/defense.

RE: Nice
By GeeSussFreeK on 8/7/2007 10:18:04 AM , Rating: 2
After doing some digging around, I think to this point, congress has funded 315 billion dollars in total appropriations. That is pretty huge relative to the budget at large, and even without looking at our huge budget, it is a lot of money.

RE: Nice
By FITCamaro on 8/6/2007 6:14:56 PM , Rating: 2
Excerpt from wikipedia's info on the Carlyle Group:

Defense investments represent about 1% of the group's current portfolio

RE: Nice
By tatoruso on 8/24/2007 4:17:53 PM , Rating: 2
We don't drive dump trucks into towns and blow them up and kill almost 20 kids

No no no! that´s sooo low-tech
Americans do it by missiles! it´s sooo neat and cool!!!
Like the footage they release? in black and white, lest people get disgusted by the blood, or thought of having ripped apart a father, a son, a grandmother.... it´s like atari!!!
wippi!!! let´s kill them all!!!!!!

(just in case nobody noticed, i was being sarcastic)

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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