The American Navy’s Latest Toy

December 20, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

The American Navy is now testing a drone aircraft, called the X-47B, on an aircraft carrier, writes Sharon Weinberger:

  • Most unmanned aircraft are controlled by humans on the ground, but the X-47B is a fully autonomous drone, able to fly without any human instruction.
  • On the deck of the aircraft carrier the plane is maneuvered by a remote control strapped to somebody’s arm.
  • The drone has a range of 3,200km and sometime in 2014 the Navy will test its aerial re-fuelling capabilities to see if that can be extended further.
  • When normal aircraft takes off from a carrier, the pilot generally salutes the deckhands to indicate that they’re ready for launch. In a nod to this tradition, the X-47B blinks its lights to signal that it is ready.

Read more about the drone, its weapons capabilities, why it might not ever be produced on a mass scale, and more over here.

Source: BBC