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NASA’s X47 Unmanned Jets Are Now Headed To The Museum After 11 Years Of Service

U.S. Sailors move a U.S. Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator aircraft onto an aircraft elevator aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013, in the Atlantic Ocean. The George H.W. Bush was the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter/Released)

The mighty X47B unmanned jets have been reportedly decommissioned from the fleet of U.S. Army operations and are likely to become a piece of art at two aviation museums. The ferocious X-47Bs have gone through considerable technological advancements by the U.S. Army and first conquered the skies in 2011. Then, in 2015, the two active demonstrators of the X-47B aircrafts successfully passed the extensive operational and flight testing and, as a result, qualified to be deployed in combat activities. It has to be noted that these unmanned jets remained in service for 11 years.

However, the decision to retire these extraordinarily capable aircrafts has been taken by the officials, and according to them, it is wise to retire the X-47Bs because otherwise it would take a huge amount of money for their routine maintenance checks and to keep them maintained for operational tasks as well. The manufacturer of these X-47B aircraft describes it as follows, “The X-47B is tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) Carrier Demonstration program. Under a contract awarded in 2007, the company designed, produced, and is currently flight-testing two X-47B aircraft. In 2013, these aircraft were used to demonstrate the first-ever carrier-based launches and recoveries by a relevant, low-observable, unmanned autonomous aircraft.”

The website further states, “In April 2015, the X-47B once again made aviation history by successfully conducting the first-ever autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) of an unmanned aircraft. AAR unlocks the full potential of what unmanned surveillance, strike, and reconnaissance systems can do in support of the Navy. These historic demonstrations solidify the concept of future unmanned aircraft and prove that the X-47B can perform standard missions—like aerial refueling—and operate seamlessly with manned aircraft as part of the Carrier Air Wing. “

On the other hand, North Grumman elaborates the functional capabilities of these X-47Bs as “The X-47B UCAS is designed to help the Navy explore the future of unmanned carrier aviation. The successful flight test program is setting the stage for the development of a more permanent, carrier-based fleet of unmanned aircraft.” Similarly, The War Zone describes the UCAS program as, “It proved to be so successful that many were stunned when the demonstrators weren’t given another contract for more testing and risk reduction work, even expanding into the tactical realms.”

To that end, these aircrafts have built a resume that you would be proud of! Thus, there’s a decent chance that you will be seeing these X-47Bs in either of the two aviation museums really soon.

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