back to article Second US Navy robot stealth bomber takes flight

A second X-47B unmanned stealth attack plane is now flying, and the US Navy expects the robot aircraft to demonstrate operations from an aircraft carrier on schedule in 2013. Air Vehicles 1 and 2 of the X-47B UCAS-D project on the flight line at Edwards. Credit: Northrop Grumman Maverick walked out onto the flight line ... …


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  1. Ralph B
    Black Helicopters

    An ED-209 with Wings

    Is US-standard friendly fire functionality included?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Absolutely Right

      They could be used to attack each other too------ better keep an eye on the remote operators!

      This beats the hell out of fighting with abrasive-tailed kites!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Brilliant post!

      And the Iraq war was "just about the oil".

  2. S Larti

    Good news for the UK then:

    By the time we get our aircraftless carriers, sorry carrier & mothballed hulk, fitted with aircraft said aircraft will be obsolescent and the rest of the world will be using stealth robots.

    Good to see my taxes being so well spent.

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Ye Olde Manchurian Meme with a Novel Nobel Turing Twist

    Yes, quite clever, I suppose. The RAF might like to try and plausibly deny that they would be taking an altogether different and more lucrative and stealthier tack and faster track on future secure defence systems with comparable and not too dissimilar remote control of robotically programmed human assets.

    Too late for a D Notice now, Lewis. :-) And it does sort of explain rather well the lack of core military hardware investment of late, doesn't it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More shiny whizzy things.

    Are they the answer though

    I thought the greatest problems have been from a bunch of medieval primitives with AK47's and RPG's. Much as in know asymmetric warfare. Where you send a million dollar B52 to kill a peasant on a $50 bicycle.

    Still I suppose thats why you have the US Marine Corps. Semper Fi!

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Thumb Up

      You miss the point...

      These vehicles are used to establish air superiority.

      Once you own the sky's you control the battlefield.

      They are cheaper than the full sized things and you don't have to worry about losing a pilot.

      Thumbs up because if you harden the electronics, you've got. An unstable aircraft where you can do high G maneuvers that aren't possible w a human pilot onboard...

      1. John A Blackley

        "Once you own the sky's (sic) you control the battlefield"

        Someone forgot to tell that to the Afghanis, the Iranians, the Lebanese.........

      2. easytoby

        Once you own the skies you control the battlefield?

        The taliban still control Afganistan, Pakistan and Dagestan,,,,, No sign of air superiority achieving anything but longer lingering march of death (on both sides). The IED is still the 'killer' app. Once there is a way to find and destroy these, there will be another example of inimitable human ingenuity that will emerge from the minds of a desperate people with nothing left to lose.

        A true stealth weapon would be something that crept in and created an an economy providing structure, reward of opportunity, and a hope of a future worth not dying for.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        the point is a wee bit more subtle thank you might think

        Unmanned bombers flying on pre-programmed missions will never establish air superiority. Nor can you control an asymmetrical battlefield with unmanned craft. The reason is that all your opponents need to do is to deploy some arse-kicking spark-gap transmitters and your remote control is screwed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Who says you are limited to preprogrammed flight only?

          The trouble is that you seem to think in only one dimension. If you think outside the box, you have the capability to do much more with current technology.

          In terms of air superiority... You need to look at military history for the past 100 years.

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Topgun meets Revenge of the Nerds

    The movies are going to be a bit different though.

    Especially the scene where the navy's top fighter pilot arrives in the bar to impress Kelly McGillis, steps off his segway to reveal the beer gut and T-shirt declaring his love for all things trek.

    My handle is "l33t-nerd" I downed 32 chinese migs and I'm a 7th level mage in WoW

    1. Quxy

      No nerds required

      This generation of UAVs is more T3 than Revenge of the Nerds. Didn't you read the blurb?

      "The X-47B is a computer-controlled unmanned aircraft system that takes off, flies a preprogrammed mission, and then returns to base ... The operator ... does not fly it via remote control."

  6. Bango Skank
    Paris Hilton

    Skynet gets it's 2nd whizzy stealthy thing

    So if the robot stealth plane decides to go walkabout, how would they find it?

    Paris, because she likes whizzy stealthy things

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Probably with a built in remote kill switch, Like the ones they may or may not have on jets they sell to other countries.

      1. Asiren

        Ah, makes defence all the easier

        So instead of having AA installations requiring LOS defence, you can just have large radio masts blasting the latest kill-switch signal hacked from the opposition!

      2. Wayland Sothcott 1
        IT Angle

        hmmmm, remote kill switch...

        well hack into that and you can just ask them to blow themselves up.

  7. tonysmith

    it flies preprogrammed missions? So what happens if an enemy aircraft goes to intercept it? does it keep flying as it was or does it back out of the mission or does it have the program/skill to fight it out?

    Is this just a big stealthy drone which can carry weapons to attack ground targets?

  8. Error Message Silver badge

    I for one, welcome our stealthy bird of prey masters

    When can I be owned by one?

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Dunno... Afghanistan?

      Dress up like a local, carry a long big pole, if you can't find a sniper rifle or RPG and try and look menacing and maybe a predator might drop something on you or something like that.

  9. TheRealRoland
    Thumb Up

    Talk to me, Goose!

    <modem sound>

  10. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @No nerds required

    That's even worse. If it's preprogrammed then it's field circus engineers and BOFHS that configure it = were DOOMED

  11. NogginTheNog


    200 years ago weavers smashed looms in anger at technological progress.

    Maybe we'll soon see Top Guns bombing the Northop Grumman testing facilities...??!

  12. Stephen Gray

    I've heard all this before...

    All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

  13. Paul 129
    Thumb Up

    Carrier Command

    Well that's one Sci Fi game almost to reality, Just need the auto repair n automatic mines.

    Next of the ranks, Mail Order Monsters. I was hoping for Elite but I guess, that's up to the Chinese

  14. Goat Jam

    Is It Just Me

    Or is this constant push by the US to "dehumanize" warfare slightly unsettling?

    The start of this process began in world war 2 where bomber crews could fly at high altitudes and drop massive amounts of death and destruction on the invisible human beings below.

    Now we have killing by remote control where operators sit in airconditioned offices to kill more invisible people by the dozen only to be home by five to cook dinner for the family.

    Now we are giving soulless machines the ability to hunt down and kill people without a human having to suffer even the slightest discomfort at the fact that they are depriving some child a mother/father/sister/brother.

    RoTM jokes aside, I find this trend to be quite disturbing.

    1. Davidoff

      It's not just you

      I personally find the current trend to use drones to kill 'insurgents' remotely highly worrying, especially when considering the colateral damage.

      On the other side, taking out the element of human control is probably the next logical step for a country's military force that has proven again and again to be rather incompetent in general warfare and tactics, and only knows how to solve problems by throwing a shitload of money at it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Once you move beyond hand-to-hand combat, and even allow bows and arrows, the de-humanising process begins.

      Still, it'll all be over soon.

    3. Wayland Sothcott 1

      Surely it's better that the good guys don't risk getting hurt?

      Surely you realize that we are the good guys and we are in the right to bomb people?

      Surely it makes you proud to be from the western civilization?

      If killing everyone at a wedding saves the life of one innocent child then it's a price worth paying?

  15. SiempreTuna
    Thumb Up

    Yes, Please!

    "A true stealth weapon would be something that crept in and created an an economy providing structure, reward of opportunity, and a hope of a future worth not dying for"

    .. could we be first in line to be hit with one of those, please?

    Be even better if it took out corrupt politicians .. which I'm pretty sure means all of 'em

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few mouse clicks...

    What, no keyboard shortcuts?

    Man, they're gonna get pwned by teh leet kidz.

  17. pctechxp

    Not just America

    BAE systems are building one right here in Blighty called the Mantis

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