PALMDALE - Heralded as the future of naval aviation, the X-47B unmanned combat aircraft for the Navy was unveiled Tuesday before an enthusiastic crowd at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Palmdale facility. With the Stars and Stripes as a backdrop and the strains of "Anchors Away" echoing through the hangar, the men and women who have contributed to its development greeted the cutting-edge aircraft during the afternoon ceremony.
"It stands out as being a very good-looking aircraft," said Scott Winship, Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program manager for Northrop Grumman.
A first for the Navy, the X-47B is intended to demonstrate the capability of an unmanned, stealthy aircraft to operate from a carrier.
Such an aircraft could offer the Navy the ability to provide long-range strike as well as long-endurance missions for surveillance.
"The Navy is looking for what that next generation airplane has got to have in the way of attributes," said Capt. Martin Deppe, Navy UCAS program manager. "A concept like this is certainly a candidate."
An unmanned aircraft can operate for tens of hours longer than a pilot can safely endure, providing a persistent presence over an area of interest.
"If you want persistence, if you want stealth and you want it to be Navy-based, it's going to look a lot like this," Winship said.
"The ultimate goal is for us to be able to project power around the world to help people achieve and maintain freedom," said Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, whose district includes Northrop Grumman's Palmdale facility.
The X-47B is part of a demonstration program to show how an unmanned vehicle may operate in the demanding and unique environment of an aircraft carrier...............continues at link.