Just a week ago, the Navy test-flew its new UAV, the X-47B. The test flight took place at Edwards AFB at 2 p.m. and lasted 29 minutes. The aircraft reached an altitude of 5 000 ft.
The X-47B is said to revolutionize robotic aerial warfare because of some of its one of a kind characteristics. Unlike other UAV's before it, such as the Predators and Reapers operating in the Middle East, the X-47B is powered by a jet engine so it can fly at much higher speeds. This new UAV also possesses stealth characteristics and will also be able to operate off carriers.
The X-47B's airframe looks like a combination between the B-2 and the F-117. It has a tailless design like the B-2 and the wing design of the F-117. The demonstration aircraft seen above is only a fraction of the size the X-47B will be. The X-47C, a proposed larger version, will have a wingspan of 172 ft, more than 4 times the length of the wingspan of the B variant (which is 38.2 ft).
The funding for this aircraft began in 2007 when the Navy awarded a $ 635.8 million contract to Northrop Grumman. It will be a few more years before the X-47B comes into service but it shows that more and more attention is being paid on unmanned aerial vehicles and that in the future, aerial warfare will probably be predominantly unmanned planes.