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X-47B Unmanned Stealth Bomber's Maiden Flight

X-47B's maiden flight at Edwards Air Force Base
Northropgrumman.com
X-47B's maiden flight at Edwards Air Force Base
Northropgrumman.com

The X-47B, an unmanned stealth bomber, successfully completed its first test - a 29 minute fly by over Edwards Air Force Base on Friday. If the project is successful, it would mark a major evolution in the history of combat aviation. If it works as advertised, it could signal the end for the need to send human fighter pilots into combat. However, more test flights the X-47B are scheduled and it's yet unclear when the strike fighter might enter production.

In the meantime, where's clear is that this is a first-class piece of technology. The six-year $635.8 million project is slated for completion by 2013. If you want to geek out, here's the Northrup Grumman spec sheet. Also, Fast Company offers a primer on the craft and its place in the history of "flying wing research." The X-47B, designed as a flying wedge," is all but invisible to radar, and hard to lock on to with infrared missiles. It's capable of taking off automatically, flying to a location by itself, scanning the scene with a variety of sensors, and then--when commanded to do so by remote pilots--dropping precision-guided weapons on a target, before flying home to an air base or an aircraft carrier." Here's a look at the craft in flight: