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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 bespoke on 8/6/2007 1:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Part of the reason the Iraqi army losses in Gulf Way I & II were thousands of times higher than ours was due to our technology being one to two generations ahead of theirs (of course, the severe mismanagement of the Iraqi military and the complete lack of morale were even more deadly, but I digress). This will allow us to be even more callous in our choices of who to fight and when.

BTW, the UK, Germany and perhaps France aren't too far behind the US in UCAV technology.


RE: Love em
By FITCamaro on 8/6/2007 1:10:34 PM , Rating: 4
Yes but that doesn't mean we're going to just start attacking anyone and everyone who's technology doesn't match our own.

Look at the good side. And also make note that while we inflicted far more casualties on their military than they on our own, we also minimized civilian casualties through the use of our technology. Instead of blanket bombing an area like in WW2, we used cruise missiles worth a million bucks each to take out a single building.


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