x-47b

Ray Mabus

[UPDATED with Congressional reaction] ROSLYN, VA: Ray Mabus likes robots. The Navy Secretary has declared the F-35 will be “the last manned strike fighter” the service ever buys and invested heavily in unmanned aircraft, boats, and submersibles. But Mabus has frustrated drone advocates on one major program: the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft. This morning, Mabus defended… Keep reading →

Navy image

NATIONAL HARBOR: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus may want to move drones to the top of his priorities, but what kind of unmanned systems do the Navy and Marine Corps want to buy? Don’t think Predator or even the Navy’s new 131-foot-wingspan Triton. Imagine a swarm of buzzing, scuttling or swimming robots that are smaller but smarter. While a… Keep reading →

The X-47B drone plugs into an aerial refueling tanker for the first time.

UPDATED Thursday with test results NATIONAL HARBOR, MD: “Tomorrow, actually, the weather looks good,” said Capt. Beau Duarte, the Navy’s head of carrier-launched drone programs — at least, he added cautiously, as of “right now.” If the weather holds, the Navy’s experimental X-47B drone will refuel in mid-air — the first time an unmanned aircraft has… Keep reading →

next-gen bomber

It will be one of the great weapons competitions of the 21st century. Northrop Grumman is competing against a team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin to build the Long Range Strike Bomber. The company has also created design teams to work on so-called sixth generation fighters for the Air Force and the Navy. With the… Keep reading →

Lockheed Martin's UCLASS concept.

It’s crunch time for UCLASS. On September 10th — after multiple delays — the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer and his Defense Acquisition Board will sit in judgment on the proposed combat drone. The question: how best to bring the robot revolution to the deck of the 90-year-old aircraft carrier. The “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and… Keep reading →

The U.S. Navy's unmanned X-47B conducts flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. Operating alongside an F/A-18, the X-47B demonstrated two successful launch and recovery sequences. The Theodore Roosevelt is currently underway preparing for future deployments. Photo by Alan Radecki.

[UPDATED: Key test goal met] Robots may be the future of war, but for now they’re going to have to share the battlefield with humans and human-operated vehicles. That’s especially tricky in the tight confines of a Navy carrier’s flight deck, where one miscalculation could drive a drone into a manned aircraft, the bridge island, a… Keep reading →

UCLASS General Atomics

CAPITOL HILL: A bipartisan letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus argues that the Navy should reexamine the approach it’s taking to the stealthy carrier-based Unmanned Aerial System known as UCLASS. UCLASS letter fm Forbes to Sec. Mabus 9-17-2013 Reps. Randy Forbes and Mike McIntyre, the chairman and ranking members of the House Armed Services seapower and… Keep reading →

The Navy's X-47B drone becomes the first unmanned aircraft to launch from an aircraft carrier.

AUVSI: The Navy’s experimental carrier stealth drone, the X-47B, would have made a third landing on the USS George H.W. Bush last month but for the fact the plane knew it was doing a test and decided to waive itself off, Adm. Mathias Winter said here this morning. Think about that. This is a plane… Keep reading →

X-47B Takes Off from USS Bush in May.

[Updated Thursday with details on third, aborted landing attempt] Two out of three ain’t bad, if you’re trying something no one’s ever done before. Landing on the narrow, pitching deck of a Navy aircraft carrier is one of the hardest things a human being can do. Today, for the first time in history, a robot… Keep reading →

130517-N-YZ751-017 ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 17, 2013) An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator conducts a touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), marking the first time any unmanned aircraft has completed a touch and go landing at sea. George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis/Released)

The eagle hasn’t exactly landed, but it did the next best thing. This afternoon, off the Virginia coast, the Navy’s experimental X-47B UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) became the first unmanned aircraft to do a “touch and go” on an aircraft carrier. That’s a major milestone for the pioneering drone, which just this Tuesday conducted… Keep reading →

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