Droned At Sea; Navy Launches First Unmanned Jet From Aircraft Carrier

Tyler Durden's picture

For the first time in naval history, a unmanned stealth drone (the bat-wing X-47B) was launched from an aircraft carrier. As Reuters reports, the launch from the USS George H.W. Bush marks an important step toward expanded use of drones in "providing very long range stealth" capabilities. Seen as a potential answer to the threat of medium-range anti-ship missiles developed by China and Iran; with a range of 2000 nautical miles the X-47B is "strategically very important." Because of its long range and the Navy's need to have it take off and land, day and night, from an aircraft carrier, the X-47B has been designed to operate with far greater autonomy than the remotely piloted aircraft currently in use. That has raised concerns among some organizations worried about the heavy U.S. reliance on drones in warfare and the rising use of autonomous robots by the American military; but Rear Admiral Ted Branch sees it as a "red letter day... we all saw history happen."


The drone in action...





Via Reuters,

The U.S. Navy made aviation history on Tuesday by launching an unmanned jet off an aircraft carrier for the first time, taking an important step toward expanded use of drones by the American military with an eye on possible rivals like China and Iran.


The bat-winged X-47B stealth drone roared off the USS George H.W. Bush near the coast of Virginia and flew a series of pre-programmed maneuvers around the ship before veering away toward a Naval air station in Maryland where it was scheduled to land.




Because of its stealth potential and a range nearly twice that of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the X-47B and its successors are seen as a potential answer to the threat posed by medium-range anti-ship missiles developed by China and Iran, defense analysts said.


The missiles and other so-called anti-access, area-denial weapons would force U.S. aircraft carriers to operate far enough from shore that piloted aircraft would have to undergo refueling to carry out their missions, leaving them vulnerable to attack.


But with a range of 2,000 nautical miles, an unmanned jet like the X-47B could give the Navy both a long-range strike and reconnaissance capability.


"That makes it strategically very important," said Anthony Cordesman, a senior defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He described the drone as "essentially a really long-range stealth system."


"As we rebalance to the Pacific, the Navy is going to increasingly need range," said Brien Alkire, a senior researcher at RAND's Project Air Force. "That's something an unmanned system can bring them that they don't really have right now and give them the ability to operate from a good standoff range.




Future variants of the drone could probably be designed for full-spectrum broadband stealth, which means it would be hard for radar to locate it, analysts said. That level of stealth would be one of the drone's major defenses.




Because of its long range and the Navy's need to have it take off and land, day and night, from an aircraft carrier, the X-47B has been designed to operate with far greater autonomy than the remotely piloted aircraft currently in use.


That has raised concerns among some organizations worried about the heavy U.S. reliance on drones in warfare and the rising use of autonomous robots by the American military.


Human Rights Watch, in a report launching its recent campaign against "killer robots," cited the X-47B as one of several weapons that represent a transition toward development of fully autonomous arms that require little human intervention.




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LetThemEatRand's picture

I'm thinking this is definitely the brooding, remorseful Bat Wing.  

General Decline's picture

A lethal, conscienceless killing machine launched from the HW Bush? How appropriate.

LetThemEatRand's picture

It probably releases a "mission accomplished" banner when it kills children.  Because it's all for the children.

chumbawamba's picture

But can they land it?

I am Chumbawamba.

erg's picture

Humans are obsolete.

Signed, The Globalists

RideTheWalrus's picture

Next phase: Unmanned aircraft carriers that can launch unmanned jets,

Signed, Skynet

francis_sawyer's picture

Next: Unmanned PLANET with drones just bombing the shit out of wamprats & HFT algos taking the Dow to daily new highs...

prains's picture

tough time to be brown, poor fuckers......

TwoShortPlanks's picture

Beautiful priorities: Drones and Food Stamps.

Next step: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmIIgE7eSak

old naughty's picture

Drones and Flattops...

Two physical assets buildup to turn the economy around ?

Angus McHugepenis's picture

What...??? No droning of "CheesePopes"??

Francis, you are cunning linguist! I can't stop laughing!

prains's picture

I thought Franc was pimping a new chip

chumbawamba's picture

That was gay.


The words above are used as defined in the Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language Second Edition Unabridged (1936).

I am Chumabwamba.

Wile-E-Coyote's picture

Next phase: Unmanned aircraft carriers that can launch unmanned jets...... to hunt down the human race, love Skynet.

palmereldritch's picture

And launched from the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush no less.

Apparently the U.S.S. Pol Pot had a prior engagement

ersatzteil's picture

And the U.S.S. 1980's Saddam Hussein is on it's way to gas Iran to freedom with logistics support from the Ronald Reagan.

Bangin7GramRocks's picture

Soon enough, pilots will be in the unemployment line next to radio DJ's.

Lore's picture

Fascinating.  Let freedom bells ring.  What's the price tag?

The Iranians will never add THIS one to their collection.  Anyway, they're building their own: 

Iran unveils ‘Epic’ new drone (10-May)

How long before we see robot-piloted passenger flights? ....Never mind.

We've come a long way from the days when two sick assholes could settle a disagreement by having a scrap without involving other people.

MythicalFish's picture

Revell stock surges on huge Iranian order..

thisandthat's picture

Don't worry, Iranian Revolutionary Guard is on duty 24/7...

nmewn's picture

Whats the drone kill score card between Bush & Obama?

As an aside...

"Cruz asked Holder if the Constitution allowed the federal government to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil who doesn't pose an imminent threat. Holder said the situation was hypothetical, but he did not think that in that situation the use of a drone or lethal force would be appropriate. Cruz criticized Holder for not simply saying 'no' in response."

espirit's picture

We all know [place] Holder is a lying cunt.  My appologies to non-lying cunts.

General Decline's picture

"Whats the drone kill score card between Bush & Obama?" Good point. They better get going on building the USS Obama right away.

nmewn's picture

Paid for by more debt issuance, making it even more despicable.

palmereldritch's picture

No point.

He has so many people carrying water for him that they will never be able to find a suitable place for launch.

TheObsoleteMan's picture

The USS.OBAMA. Built "somewhere" overseas, and delivered to Bath, Maine, where they will swear to God that was where it was built. The skipper will be a lesbian, seeing how Obama has a fetish for them.

Dyhana's picture

I'd say something about drones and that "lying sack of shit, leave myself an out" piss ant Holder in a wishful thinking type scenario, but I might get on (another) list somewhere.

Dyhana's picture

A lethal, conscienceless killing machine launched from the HW Bush?

Hah. Beat me to it.

Buck Johnson's picture

Wait until one of those are hacked.

yogibear's picture

This presents a challenge for the Chinese and Russians. Once it's hacked they have a whole fleet of aircraft to use.

One thing about technology, there is always a way to circumvent it.

The US broke the Japanese code in WWII, which helped defeat it. 

The Russians have some very smart scientist as well as do the Chinese. There are so many Chinese nationals working all over the US defense industry. They probably already know how to take over and control them.


youngman's picture

They already have a satellite killer in place....

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

So, let me think... what US company is famed for making the Comm system for so much of US avionics? Hmmm, could it be a certain Rock solid company somewhere in the Midwest, not too far from Francis? That'd be my bet. :-)

Slightly Insane's picture

Just think .... the drone could have been launched from the Chinese Junk called the BH Obama.  The drone would attain an attack elevation of 500 feet and within a minute would fire upon itself!  this is what we have to look forward to ....   Saileors FORWARD to the Poop Deck.

indio007's picture

Droned at sea! HAHHA hehe heh I see what you did there !... meh........


Love you Tyler <3

espirit's picture

Hey, now at least those navy pukes can shoot at something other then passenger airliners.

/no sarc/

otto skorzeny's picture

how the fuck is this thing going to stop sunburn missiles skimming a few feet above the  top of the waves at mach 2.1? soon big fat slow carriers will be as obsolete as battleships were proven to be in WWII

Cheater5's picture

Easy.  Increased standoff capability for the carrier.

Lore's picture

You think this thing might intercept incoming missiles?  Love to see that.  Very impressive if true.  Pardon my skepticism.

Z_End's picture


Correct Sir!

thisandthat's picture

at 2000 nmiles range (3700km) you have to wonder what you need ACs for...

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

You need them for Big Budgets. And to "project power". Before we had drones. Or Rise of the Drones, and its sequel Drone Wars.

americanspirit's picture

Once they get the extended range thingy worked out for little batwing those carriers won't have to leave home port. If fact the crew can all go on shore leave and the carrier can just sit there at the pier and launch away. I think we need to build a lot more carriers - they are obviously the weapons system of the future.

Slightly Insane's picture

Otto, where have you been?   This has been the case ever since the Cole got blasted.  Those things are floating coffins ..... actually dude they throw a shit ton of hot metal in the sky .... it's called shaff.  That's as long as someone doesn't have to call Washington for a Benghazi event ..... then they are just like a duck on the pond getting hit with a 10 ga.

ersatzteil's picture

I don't think they care. Aegis AESA's can detect Sunburn's at - what - 15 miles from the ship? That gives them 25 seconds to lock, run the math and find a firing solution. 

It's hilarious to see how this system sends the Pentagon into hysterics - remember that Navy saber rattling in the Pacific after China got their Sunburn-launching Sovremmeny destroyers from Russia?

otto skorzeny's picture

Many have underestimated the Russian Bear.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

They used what I call the 'Matador' chess gambit on would-be conquerors like Napoleon and Hitler: death by exsanguination. Bleeding out.

The Empire is bleeding out dollars. With Bernanke providing the transfusion packs.

djsmps's picture

We are all fucked.