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X-47B may take first flight this month
X-47B is significantly behind schedule

The U.S. military has been using unmanned drones for years now as reconnaissance vehicles and in some cases to attack targets with missiles once they are found. The drone programs like the Predator have been a great success for the Air Force and the military is looking to a future fighting force that relies heavily on unmanned aircraft.

With the last of the Predator drones set for delivery next month, its Reaper replacement is already online. Reaper was designed from the ground up to carry weapons unlike the Predator that gained weapons as an afterthought.

Now, the U.S. Navy’s X-47B unmanned strike fighter that is set to take its first flight soon. The aircraft was built by Northrop Grumman and will be a carrier-based unmanned attack aircraft. The X47-B has been performing taxi tests for several weeks at Edwards Air Force base in California as the aircraft is put through the tests required before it takes to the skies for the first time.

Officials overseeing the X-47B test program had hoped to have the first flight by the middle of the month but poor weather and other factors prevented that test. The officials still hope the flight will happen before the end of the year.

A pair of X-47B aircraft was constructed under a development contract granted in 2007 reports Defense News. Initial plans for the unmanned fighters called for the aircraft to have flown in late 2009 and to have at-sea trials held in early 2011. The aircraft is significantly behind that original schedule.

The X-47B looks like a smaller version of the B-2 stealth bomber, has a 62-foot wingspan, and is 38-feet long. The aircraft can carry 4,500 pounds of weapons at high subsonic speeds with a range of about 2,100 miles. The aircraft can operate at up to 40,000 feet and stay aloft for six hours per tank of fuel. The X-47B will be capable of automated aerial refueling.

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just so we're clear...
By inperfectdarkness on 12/17/2010 1:46:57 PM , Rating: 5
this is a strike aircraft. it will NOT be doing aerial dogfighting.

RE: just so we're clear...
By Jardi on 12/17/2010 2:01:28 PM , Rating: 1
No, you don't say...

RE: just so we're clear...
By magreen on 12/17/10, Rating: 0
RE: just so we're clear...
By frozentundra123456 on 12/17/2010 2:30:46 PM , Rating: 5
same was with the F-117. they call it the stealth fighter, but it really is a bomber.

RE: just so we're clear...
By ironargonaut on 12/17/2010 5:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't the F designate fighter? B bomber? B1 bomber. F16 fighter, F15 fighter, B52 bomber, B17 bomber.

RE: just so we're clear...
By amanojaku on 12/17/2010 7:33:22 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, the basic mission symbol "F" means "fighter". However, there are exceptions to the use and meaning of designation.

Two designations, separated by a slash; supposed to be one

Should just be R-71; "S" here means "strategic", as in "strategic reconnaissance", when it usually means "anti-submarine"

There are several rumors as to the origin of the "F-117" designation. In fact, the 117 number is also non-standard.

Basic information on US DOD aircraft designations.

RE: just so we're clear...
By Einy0 on 12/17/2010 8:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
Generally speaking aircraft that carry smaller bomb payloads are referred to as Fighter Bombers such as the old FB-111 or a Strike Fighter such as the F-117 or F-15E model. Today's aircraft are generally multi-role anyway. Drones would be an exception. I haven't seen a Air to Air drone ... YET...

RE: just so we're clear...
By 91TTZ on 12/20/2010 2:52:51 PM , Rating: 2
Generally speaking aircraft that carry smaller bomb payloads are referred to as Fighter Bombers such as the old FB-111 or a Strike Fighter such as the F-117 or F-15E model.

Actually, dedicated light bombers usually have the "A" designation for "attack", such as the A-10, A-7 Corsair, A-6 Intruder, etc. If they were heavier they'd have the "B" designation for "bomber".

RE: just so we're clear...
By Lugaidster on 12/18/2010 2:37:49 AM , Rating: 2
Dog-fighting doesn't happen at supersonic speeds. However, I don't think that this plane was conceived for that purpouse.

RE: just so we're clear...
By BruceLeet on 12/17/10, Rating: 0
By gookpwr on 12/17/10, Rating: 0
RE: Awsome!!
By cjohnson2136 on 12/17/2010 2:45:31 PM , Rating: 2
except its not a fighter it wouldnt have your back lol

RE: Awsome!!
By nafhan on 12/17/2010 5:07:01 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, it would be Maverick and Jester sitting in a cubical/office with a bunch of computer monitors, and in turn surrounded by more cubes also filled with people sitting in front of monitors. Doesn't sound like a recipe for a great action movie. Maybe it could be some sort of Office Space knockoff...

"Mmmmm, yeah, We need to talk about your civilian casualty reports."
"Yeah. The coversheet. I know, I know. Uh, Bill talked to me about it."
"Yeah. Did you get that memo?"
"Yeah. I got the memo. And I understand the policy. And the problem is just that I forgot the one time. And I've already taken care of it so it's not even really a problem anymore."
"Yeah. It's just we're putting new coversheets on all the civilian casualty reports before they go out now. So if you could go ahead and try to remember to do that from now on, that'd be great."

RE: Awsome!!
By johnsonx on 12/17/2010 6:24:32 PM , Rating: 3
"and I'll go ahead and get you another copy of that memo".

Is significantly over schedule......
By aromero78 on 12/17/10, Rating: 0
RE: Is significantly over schedule......
By FITCamaro on 12/17/2010 5:54:41 PM , Rating: 2
Hi. I'm high tech engineering. Have we met?

Anything this complex will always take longer than planned. Why? Because with the competitiveness of bids these days its all who will get it done the fastest with the lowest cost and risk.

If the government wanted realistic bids that resulted in relatively on-time and on-budget product development, they'd have to just award the contract to someone, then let them say how long and how much.

By mars3d4f on 12/18/2010 10:36:08 PM , Rating: 2

By Wolfy747400 on 12/19/2010 2:56:02 AM , Rating: 2
Is this what they used in the Skyline movie? I mean the concept of it? The part where they nuked the big mothership?

RE: Skyline?
By fteoath64 on 12/21/2010 8:55:47 AM , Rating: 2
Looks like it. The fact that it was pilot-less means it got over the alien defenses. But the nuke exploding inside the mothership does not make sense. It should have denoted near the ship rather than inside. No matter (ET or otherwise) can stand a nuclear blast. If the Et sends the bomb to another dimension before it denotes, thats a different sory. But sill Skyline show an ending we never quite expect, did we ?.

By foolsgambit11 on 12/17/2010 2:26:59 PM , Rating: 3
Man, just trim the wings down, and that thing looks just like the ship from Flight of the Navigator. Awesome.

By mavricxx on 12/18/10, Rating: 0
RE: Ridiculuos!
By kingius on 12/20/10, Rating: 0
RE: Ridiculuos!
By zephyrprime on 12/20/2010 12:48:51 PM , Rating: 3
It's ridiculous to expect more than limited features from a first of it's find craft. It's prudent to follow a measured development path rather than bite off more than you can chew in the first pass. The US is currently engaged in two wars against militarily weak foes. I'm sure the turnaround time and cost of this new plane is lower than that of a traditional plane so it should prove to be a cost effective asset to use right now.

By jpmills on 12/17/10, Rating: -1
RE: Accountability
By cjohnson2136 on 12/17/2010 2:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree but I feel like that is where warfare is heading. Trying to take out as many people with as few people as possible. Soon war will be nothing more then calculating the odds and figuring out a winner

RE: Accountability
By ksherman on 12/17/2010 3:11:12 PM , Rating: 4
There was an episode of Stargate SG-1 to that effect...

RE: Accountability
By TheDoc9 on 12/17/2010 4:08:15 PM , Rating: 5
Based off of the original Star Trek series.

RE: Accountability
By ClownPuncher on 12/17/2010 4:49:41 PM , Rating: 2
Like Fantasy Football?

RE: Accountability
By nafhan on 12/17/2010 2:57:20 PM , Rating: 5
I think you're mistaking an increase in frequency (due to availability) with an actual change in policy. I'd argue that if manned aircraft were available at the same place and times as these drones, the shots would still be taken. Remember, in regards to accountability, these are manned aircraft. Anytime a trigger is pulled, it's a conscious decision by a human flight crew - even if they aren't physically present.

I'm not saying that taking the shot is the right call in all cases, just that remote operation isn't a deciding factor in whether or not the call to take the shot is made.

RE: Accountability
By Thelookingglass on 12/17/2010 4:25:11 PM , Rating: 4
As if you have any idea how kill decisions are made by Coalition forces.

Its also amusing that you and your other replies seem to suggest drones cause more collateral damage than conventional fighters/bombers.

There was a war once called World War Two. Millions of civilians died. Why? Precision weapons weren't around to cripple purely military targets so countries had to pummel a country's civilian population and infrastructure to force submission.

Give it 20 years. Wars will be fought by semi-autonomous AI that acts purely to the limits of international laws of war. They'll check civilian to combatant ratios for each strike and make sure no laws are broken.

Maybe civilians in these areas should take accountability for the terrorists they harbor and tolerate. I would expect to be held just as accountable if people in my society were killing innocent people.

RE: Accountability
By FITCamaro on 12/17/2010 5:51:57 PM , Rating: 5
Maybe civilians in these areas should take accountability for the terrorists they harbor and tolerate. I would expect to be held just as accountable if people in my society were killing innocent people.


Whats that smell?....Oh. Logic.

RE: Accountability
By Skywalker123 on 12/18/10, Rating: 0
RE: Accountability
By mellomonk on 12/18/2010 4:05:04 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe civilians in these areas should take accountability for the terrorists they harbor and tolerate. I would expect to be held just as accountable if people in my society were killing innocent people.

Wow. Just wow. You honestly believe the majority of these folks support and harbor these folks? Voluntarily? And even if this is 100% the case, do you think the relatives of the 'collaterals' are going to magically jump to your side? Do you win by creating more enemies? By doing the very actions and living up to the picture they paint of you?

The advantage of the insurgent is that he has little except his ideals and cause. Even his own life is of lesser value. No force of arms can destroy his ideals and in this age of lightening communication he is stronger then ever. To destroy the man, and not his ideals. To make him a martyr to his cause and create more of his ilk by your actions is a losing strategy.

The British and Soviets learned this leasson in Afghanistan. We learned it in Vietnam, but seem to have forgotten. The slippery slope,To win ever battle, yet lose the war.

RE: Accountability
By Skywalker123 on 12/18/2010 5:22:54 PM , Rating: 2

Whats that smell?....Oh. Logic. Real logic, not Neo-Nazi logic.

RE: Accountability
By AstroGuardian on 12/20/2010 6:19:46 AM , Rating: 2
You are damn right mate. +1

RE: Accountability
By AstroGuardian on 12/20/10, Rating: 0
RE: Accountability
By Manch on 12/20/2010 8:10:53 AM , Rating: 1
faggot, not fagot


Whats that smell?'s called spelling!

RE: Accountability
By AstroGuardian on 12/23/2010 10:42:31 AM , Rating: 2
Wow. What an intellect. You found a typo. Cewl!

RE: Accountability
By Servant of Shodan on 12/20/2010 2:26:50 PM , Rating: 2
There was an awesome short story I read somewhere, where war had become so "civilized" that computers did all the fighting, battles and casualties were computed. Then according to the computed death count per day, the warring countries would voluntarily and randomly shoot their own citizens.


RE: Accountability
By kingius on 12/23/2010 9:58:59 AM , Rating: 2
Ironically, carpet bombing tactics arose directly from the idea of precision bombing /because the precision bombing didn't work/.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
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