Over the past several months I’ve posted a handful of thoughts and comments (here, here, here, here, and here) about the growing unmanned (i.e., drone) war machine we’re building here in America. The technological advancements that have led to this point are fascinating to me on a few levels – not the least of which are those falling into the science fiction and science fact categories. On one hand I’m a member of Gen X who remembers fondly seeing The Terminator in the movie theater and followed the series for another three movies booing Skynet all the way. On the other hand I’ve seen the amazing things that the U.S. military has been able to do with the Predator and Reaper drones (i.e., keeping our soldiers out of harms way) as well as some of the inspired work that has gone on in the private sector around robotics as a result of this technological groundswell (check out the DARPA-funded hummingbird drone below).
Well today the U.S. Navy took the drone warfare game to its next logical level when they tested their unmistakably UFO-ish X-47B aircraft in cruise mode for the first time. The jet-powered, autonomous aircraft is being produced by Northrop Grumman and is unlike anything the world has ever seen.
Targeted for aircraft carrier deployment and capable of significantly higher speeds than the propeller-based Predator and Reaper drones, the X-47B will be the first unmanned aircraft to take-off and land on aircraft carrier decks.
All we need now is to take the human element out completely (i.e., no operators halfway around the world sitting in a warehouse outside Las Vegas executing missions) and the “V1.0″ fully autonomous war machine will be a reality.
- UFO-Like Stealth Drone Soars in Navy Test Flight (space.com)
- Naval USA-UFO remote drone test flight a success (digitaltrends.com)
- UFO-like drone hits cruise mode (futureoftech.msnbc.msn.com)
- X-47B military drone heading to aircraft carriers in 2013, can perform aerial refueling (geek.com)