US Navy successfully lands advanced unmanned drone on aircraft carrier, the future of warfare is here

X-47B( via Navy Live )

A video recently posted by the US Navy shows their unmanned X-47B drone executing a breathtaking landing on the USS George H.W Bush, an aircraft carrier in the US Navy.

The X-47B is the first unmanned aircraft to ever achieve the feat of landing on an aircraft carrier. This achievement was by no means easy and took years of planning, preparation and implementation as well as a staggering amount of money in excess of $1.4 billion. Below is a schematic of the cutting-edge aircraft:

x-47B(2)

The key thing to note about the X-47B is that not only is it unmanned, but it isn’t controlled by any pilot at all — it is completely robotic. The landing on a US Navy carrier was unassisted by any human — remotely or otherwise. That is what makes this such an amazing feat.

The two current X-47B aircraft will be retired but the technology used to construct them will be implemented in the Navy’s current fleet of drones. They hope that the aircraft will begin duties in about 3 – 6 years time.

This technology — for better or worse — has the potential to drastically change the face of war even further than it has already. Check out the video below.

[via Gizmodo, images via Navy LiveGizmodo]

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7 comments

  1. Louis

    [@Darcy] Only too a degree. Sometimes soldiers can and are over equipped, the way I see it, regardless of the level of the technology.

    I know for a fact that soldiers nowadays hate kevlar, when they have to work in extreme heat. I don’t blame them. yet they are forced to wear them , by generals who have never fought on the ground, and who fear public opinion back home re loss of life more than they fear the enemy.

    War is war. As an example, there are many others : That scope seen on every infantryman ‘s rifle (unless you’re a sniper of course) would have been a big hindrance in the African bush war in which I fought, and be ripped off in no time, as would have been any thing else, such as any kind of kevlar, or indeed any kind of jacket. Helmets are a nuisance, no matter what material you make it of. Just like kevlar, it cannot stop NATO ammo, unless its fired from more than about 200 m out. And would simply not have been tolerated. I wouldn’t want an itrritating heads up display in front of my one eye, destroying my peripheral vision, when I need all my own senses. For that I’ve got monoculars/binoculars and night vision if needed, been around for decades. I’ll take it out when needed, until then, take it out of my face !

    Comm’s ? That’s what discipline and handsignals are for. A throat mike may be an improvement there, as long as it does not hinder any other aspect of your task. But while this may be an advantage to Seal Team Six hitting Obama in the dead of night — in the conditions where my war experience happened, if you needed to speak during critical moments, you’d already be dead. And the rest of the time, a mike would not be needed, where semi-silent systems of communication sufficed.

    Our motto was to strip OFF anything that stands in the way of complete mobility, not add to it. What do you need to carry. Lots of water, lots of various ammo, a bush hat to protect the head against the sun and prevent a shining head or glasses from giving your position away, and a few ration packs, the medic has his medical bag, and out you go.

    The Infantry and Marine tactics itself in warfare has not changed much, depending on the terrain, if at all, only the equipment has, aside from the fact that nations who start to over rely on technology, also in the same measure start to become overly sensitive to the loss of personnel.

    Nobody want (others and self) to die, but death is part of war. I shudder when I see the modern day Infantry or Marine walking around in 40 degree C+ conditions, thickly padded, jacketed and helmeted, with fancy scope on rifle.

  2. Louis

    [@Darcy] [@Ashraf] I couldn’t agree more. However, what it comes down to in the end is the vision of the conflict you have in mind.

    2 nation-states, equally strong in technology, will know their technology will at best provide short term advantages, but cancel each other out over the long run, where the real battle will be fought on the ground, living and breathing soldiers engaging their counterparts.

    Numbers, and the qualities I mentioned before, will make the difference. And contrary to popular belief, and to what soldiers are FORCED to wear nowadays, I can state with certainty : Less is more.

    The other issue with that, is which nation-state is the aggressor, and which is defending its own territory. This was in fact the situation I was writing about.

    No matter how technologically strong you are, if you are the aggressor in the backyard of a weaker (only in technology !) nation state, you WILL be forced into guerilla type warfare, whether you like it or not.

    And your bunker busters, napalm, defoliants, Apaches, Joint Fighter Aircraft, drones, heavy and hot kevlar jackets, fancy riflescopes and helmets with the throat mikes and one eye obscured with some weird heads-up display and night vision (its been around for decades, you don’t WANT it in front of your eye all the time) etc will help you not one little bit (in fact it will overall decrease your efficiency, but this you’re not going to read about in Soldier of Fortune, this you need to have experienced yourself) — unless you have the soldiers with the qualities I mentioned before, you WILL NOT succeed.

    If you’re fortunate enough not to be defeated in fact, you will just start to listen to the folks back home, and eventually retreat.

    The era of the Navy, with its very effective and magnificent at one time battleships are gone, ships above and below the waterline, apart from some nuclear subs and aircraft carriers which cancels each other out between equally strong nation-states technologically — this is gone.

    Air to air combat is gone. Air to ground combat will be around for a while, but isn’t really feasible any more — hence turning to drones, which will be cancelled in due time. ALL technology come for a while, and will eventually (soon) become redundant.

    All that remains, is the true soldier, and if in your hunt for newer and better technology you lose that edge, you’re dead in the water, comes that real war one day to the mighty nation-state (who started to believe it).

  3. Darcy

    [@Louis] Only too a degree. I agree that technology will never replace humans in warfare. Every technological advance that anyone has ever said will do that is proven not too. Well trained, motivated, etc soldiers will always be the best, and most versatile, fighting force around. That said, technology can and does make those soldiers more effective. A well equipped soldier with the latest technology, proven tech anyway, is very effective.

  4. Louis

    I don’t think the future of warfare lies in any technology, no matter how impressive (and it certainly is).

    I’m no absolute pacifist, but having fought in the Angola / Southwest African War in the 80′s (SA Marines) and losing friends, I’m not exactly a fan of war either.

    But it has taught me this : War is won or lost by good and hard training, absolute discipline and fitness, a warrior spirit, and feet on the ground. Nothing over the past 30 years have shown me anything that changes this basic fact.

    Think North Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan etc etc : No amount of technology will ever win a war for you over the long run.

    During the middle 90′s in Serbia, the whole Apache chopper fleet was grounded (as were the choppers of any other country). It’s a magnificent piece of technology, and a mean fighting machine, no doubt. So why was it grounded ?

    Because it’s also extremely expensive to build and maintain, and with the ease with which even an average trained militia in forest terrain could fire a shoulder-mounted missile, the risk of losing one was simply too great a loss to contemplate.