US Navy Launches The First Unmanned Stealth Drone
Posted: May 19, 2013 by Maja Johnson
The US Navy launched an unmanned drone which is the same size as a jet fighter. The vessel was launched from the deck of a US carrier and landed safely at the Maryland Naval Air Station.
The drone called X-47B is the first drone designed by the US Navy to take off and land on a carrier. This launch was meant to test whether the aircraft can safely take off from a moving carrier. It used a steam catapult to take off exactly like fighter jets do. The greatest challenge was to program the drone to land on a moving carrier. Landing on a moving object is quite difficult, even for navy pilots. Programming a drone to it safely was even more difficult, especially due to its size. The X-47B has a wingspan of 19 meters, and weighs 6,350 kg. It can climb up to 12,000 meters and can travel more than 3,890 km in distance. That's essentially a large truck.
The X-47B drone is nothing like the other drones used by the US. Drones called Predators and Reapers are generally used to gather intelligence and execute missile attacks. The X-47B will be used to gather intelligence, perform surveillance and targeting, but it will also be used as a bomb carrier. Even though many critics are against unmanned drones used for warfare, many US analysts believe that they are the future of war.
The X-47B drones are planned to become fully operational by the year 2020. The drones won't have the stealth abilities like the Predators and Reapers. They are much larger than the previous drones and could travel three times further. The Predator and Reaper are operated by a human through a remote control. The X-47B is entirely controlled by a computer program and does not need any human intervention.