"Today we got a glimpse towards the future as the Navy's first-ever tailless, jet-powered unmanned aircraft took to the skies," program manager Capt. Jaime Engdahl said in a statement released after the test run.
When it comes to tech specs, this aircraft is no joke. The X-47B can reach speeds of more than 500 miles per hour at 40,000 feet and possesses serious strike capabilities with laser-guided bombs.
1. No need for pit stops
One of the most impressive features of the X-47B is without question the aircraft's "autonomous aerial refueling" capability, which allows the aircraft to refuel in midflight.
2. It's another step in the "top guns" as "gamer geeks" direction
According to Fast Company's Kit Eaton:
Technically the X-47B is an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), but what it really is is an evolution of those Global Hawk and Predator drone aircraft that made the Iraq War look like a computer game when viewed at the military's tech hubs, mixed in with the same kind of stealth technology that makes the B-2 Spirit bomber such a powerful, frightening tool of force projection.3. It's an evolution of the B2 stealth bomber
It's shape makes the X-47B the "stealthiest unmanned system ever," according to the Military Channel.
4. It's an investment
In August 2007, the U.S. Navy awarded aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman the $636 million contract to develop and manufacture the unmanned aircraft. The project is scheduled for completion by 2013.
5. There are many more test runs to come
Military officials are expected to carry out more than 50 more test flights from Edwards Air Force Base. For now, here is footage of the first test run, compliments of the U.S. Navy Visual News Service:
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