Big drone makes history by landing on carrier


In another milestone in robotic warfare, the Navy on Wednesday landed a fighter-size, computer-guided drone on an aircraft carrier.

The experimental X-47B jet took off from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland and made its historic touchdown aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, off the coast of Virginia. As with conventional carrier landings — one of the most difficult tasks for a pilot — the drone deployed a tailhook that snagged an arresting wire, bringing the bat-wing plane to a quick stop on the flight deck about 1:40 p.m.

“It is not often that you get a chance to see the future, but that’s what we got to do today. This is an amazing day for aviation in general and for naval aviation in particular,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said after watching the landing.

In May, the X-47B, one of two built by Northrop Grumman, also made history when it was launched from the Bush about a hundred miles off the Eastern Shore. Four days later, the plane performed touch-and-go landings before returning to base. Its maiden flight, from the Patuxent River, was in February 2011.

The Navy says the X-47B is guided by precision satellite navigation, a highly secure network connection and advanced flight software.

The tailless, single-engine jet resembles a small B-2 bomber but does not have stealth capabilities. Intended for high-altitude surveillance — it can fly at more than 40,000 feet — the X-47B can also be equipped with weapons. The Navy plans to test in-flight refueling — using Learjets with the drone’s software — which would significantly boost its range of more than 2,100 nautical miles.

The X-47B is a big cousin to the remotely piloted Predator, which has been used to conduct deadly strikes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. It weighs 14,000 pounds, has a wingspan of 62 feet and can fly at high-subsonic speed. The turbo-prop Predator weighs in at 1,100 pounds, has 49-foot wingspan and a maximum range of 675 miles.


“landed a fighter-size, computer-guided drone on an aircraft carrier.”

this is the direction warfare is moving to..the future..but people will still die..nothing changes there..


~ by seeker401 on July 15, 2013.

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