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February 9, 2011

X-47B stealth drone takes its first test flight

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by Tom Coyne

According to military chiefs in America, a new unmanned stealth bomber has carried out its first test flight.

The stealth bomber has is a UAV, or a drone plane, and is being designed and manufactured by US defence company, Northrop Grumman.

The name for this new drone is the X-47B, and after setting off from Edwards air force base in California, it stayed in the air for 29 minutes and reached an altitude of 5,000 feet.

The X-47B will help to form part of a new generation of unmanned drones according to officials, and it will work similarly to the B-2 stealth bomber, although it is significantly smaller and is unmanned.

Unlike the current fleet of remote controlled military drone planes such as the Reaper or the Predator, the X-47B is faster, and is virtually invisible to radar.

Another unique point that stands the X-47B out from other remote controlled aircraft, is it’s ability to take off from and land back on an aircraft carrier.

This feature means that the X-47B will have much greater range than propeller driver UAVs. However this requires expert guidance and navigation.

In a statement, Captain Jaime Engdahl, one of the warplanes programme managers said the following:

“Today we got a glimpse towards the future as the Navy’s first-ever tailless, jet-powered unmanned aircraft took to the skies.”

Northrop is building the bomber as part of a £395 million contract signed in 2007.

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