The Navy yesterday executed the next round of tests with the X-47B, landing the experimental aircraft on the deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
This is the next phase for the X-47 after the Navy successfully touched it down on an aircraft carrier over the summer.
Back then, we reported on how the prospect of combining the power-projection capabilities of aircraft carriers with the autonomy and lethality of drones could provide a major boost to the U.S. military.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the top information officer in the Navy, seemed to agree on Twitter:
— RDML John Kirby (@chinfo) November 10, 2013
The most recent tests focused assessing the aircraft’s ability to fly under more difficult circumstances, including rough seas, according to the Military.com report.
“We’re going to be looking at higher winds and winds of varying directions that will create more dynamic conditions and tower interactions with the carrier,” Navy Capt. Beau Duarte said. “This will be a little more stressful on the navigation system and the air data system in the vehicle.”
Presently, the military and CIA’s fleet of Predator drones is largely operated from specialised bases scattered around the world. Operating and maintaining those bases involve balancing delicate partnerships with the countries that host them.
That’s why these tests are so important to Navy officials — while other countries try to close the gap in drone warfare with the United States, matching American naval strength is a long way off. If the U.S. can successfully wield drones away from the shore, it can retain control of remotely piloted aircraft was an enormous asymmetrical military advantage.
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