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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 Ringold on 8/6/2007 4:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
If we don't capitalize on the technology out of a weak moral belly there is no doubt China, Russia, Iran and everybody else eventually will as they are able to afford to. They would then have the advantage.

On the liberal/conservative thing.. if censorship was meant, as it was implied, to keep the people fat, dumb and happy, along with recruitment rates high by sheltering them from the "horrible" wars, then to test the thesis that it matters we could look at re-enlistment rates; people who have gone to Iraq, Afghanistan or other overseas deployments, come back, and decided to sign up yet again. And what does such an analysis show? Re-enlistment rates have been amazing.

Not to say war isn't nasty, it is, but I think it underlines the futility of trying to let that debate enter in to a judgement of the merit of this technology, the liberal/conservative debate. On a technical basis, these things pwn, so that's probably all we should be concerned with at the moment.


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