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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: And then SkyNet
By Scorpion on 8/6/2007 4:02:32 PM , Rating: 2
Frankly, I am looking forward to this new age of warfare. Stealth, unmanned, lasers, new targeting systems, scramjet's, etc... This new age of warfare is quite impressive.

I think you've romanticized too many video games and Schwarzenegger movies and anime films. Image you're the nation who doesn't have the wealth or resources to produce these kinds of arms and tell me how much you look forward to it.

RE: And then SkyNet
By masher2 on 8/6/2007 4:29:54 PM , Rating: 3
> "Image you're the nation who doesn't have the wealth or resources to produce these kinds of arms and tell me how much you look forward to it."

We don't have to imagine-- we just have to look back to history, back to the period in which warfare didn't rely upon high-tech weaponry. It certainly didn't stop people from fighting. In fact, war was far more common then than it is today. And far more destructive as well, with entire villages (and sometimes even entire civilizations) being routinely decimated.

Today, all but a tiny fraction of the population will go their entire lives without coming face to face with war. Even those that do will generally not be exposed to the rape, murder, and pillage common in centuries past. 99.95% of the civilian world will see war only on TV. For those few civilians who do, it generally means power outages and temporary housing. It no longer means the family's possesions stolen, Dad murdered, Mom and 12 year Sally raped repeatedly, and 8 year old Johnnie trotted off in chains to be sold into a life of slavery.

I'd call that a huge improvement. What about you?

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