X-47B First Flight

Last Friday:

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator completes its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base. The Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program will demonstrate the capability of an autonomous, low-observable unmanned aircraft to perform carrier launches and recoveries.

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator completes its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base. The Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program will demonstrate the capability of an autonomous, low-observable unmanned aircraft to perform carrier launches and recoveries.

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator completes its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base. The Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program will demonstrate the capability of an autonomous, low-observable unmanned aircraft to perform carrier launches and recoveries.

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator completes its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base. The Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program will demonstrate the capability of an autonomous, low-observable unmanned aircraft to perform carrier launches and recoveries.

Below, via Defense Tech, a short video.

Comments

  1. How many are they going to crash trying to put it onto a pitching/rolling carrier deck? And how many crew are we going to lose in the resulting fires. Big difference between a 10,000 foot runway on land and the 20×20 foot moving zone on a carrier…

  2. Once you build the system, test it, retest it, send it out to someone else who will be paid big time if it fails, yet it succeeds anyway a computer based landing system would be superior to a human pilot any day of the week and twice on sunday.

    Truth is, the systems exist today to do it. Its really just a programing and integration issue. In commercial aviation 95% of the time the pilots are there to make passengers feel safe. Yes the 5% of the time they are needed, and trick is, to make a system that can handle the 5%.

    We spend millions of dollars to train each pilot to land on that 20×20 moving zone. With a computer you only have to teach it once.

  3. Autopilots are not used for takeoff and landings for very good reasons.

    And airliners do not takeoff and land from an airfield that is unpredictably moving in three dimentions.

    Then factor in that you are talking about a combat aircraft that may or may not have taken damage…

    The proponents of this are people that have never worked a flight deck and will not be the ones killed when this experimental aircraft becomes an enemy cruise missile.

  4. The lack of a pilot gives you more flexibility. If the thing is too damaged for a carrier landing, just refuel it if you can and send it to the closest land base. Or just crash it into a deep part of the ocean and forget it.

    Let’s face it, we are building the last generation of piloted combat aircraft right now. We should call the next generation Hunter Killers.

  5. Bram,

    Absolutely! Flexibility rules.

    Why bother landing it on the deck? Just throw it into the drink nearby. Doesn’t matter if it is a 10G impact. Hardware can be designed to handle that.

    1. Hell Yeah! Let’s just install inflatable rafts on these things so they float to the surface after nose diving them into the drink.

      They kind of look like the flying sub in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Let’s just recover them with a nuclear sub.

  6. They will only work against low tech wogs.

    Put one against even the Chinese, and I guarantee you that they will find a way to jam the control signals and make it fall out of the sky.

    Jamming radio is easy stuff folks.

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