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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 SirLucius on 8/6/2007 1:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
I tend to agree with masher. Just look at how many times we've been asked to put more money into the Iraq war, and look at the response from people. As much as people don't like the loss of human life, I'd say the loss of cash is a greater incentive not to go to war.

Plus, correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't having more robotics in warfare lower the number of casualties? It seems like having computers do all the hard work in terms of targeting would yeild more accurate results when targeting facilities and leave less opportunity for casualties. Again, I'm just guessing. I have no idea how much of piloting is left up to the actual pilot now.


RE: Love em
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 8/6/2007 8:50:06 PM , Rating: 2
A great philosopher, I believe it was Thomas Hobbes or maybe Machiavelli, stated once that people will hate you if you kill their next of kin, but that people will abhor you if you make them live the rest of their lives in poverty.


"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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