June 13, 2016

Put the X-47B Back to Work — As a Tanker

By Jerry Hendrix

Salty Dog 501 and 502 sit silent in their hangars, their expected contributions to naval aviation unfulfilled. Before the Navy spends time and money ginning up another expensive new UAV, it should put its X-47Bs back to work.

Authorized for construction in 2007, the X-47B prototypes represent a billion-dollar investment by naval aviation to investigate how unmanned aircraft can be integrated into aircraft carrier operations. Their glory days included the first autonomous landing on an aircraft carrier and the first mid-air refueling by an unmanned aerial vehicle, and with just 80 percent of their designed flying lives expended, the two airframes were slated for yet more pioneering tests. Instead, naval aviation leaders have consigned the X-47B to museums, even as they struggle to define the next step in unmanned carrier aviation.

 

To read the full op-ed, visit the Defense One website. 

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • July 29, 2020
    Can China’s Military Win the Tech War?

    The United States and its allies should take seriously Beijing’s efforts to militarize China’s technological base....

    By Anja Manuel & Kathleen Hicks

  • Transcript
    • May 20, 2020
    Transcript from Emerging Concepts in Joint Command and Control

    On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, the CNAS Technology and National Security Program hosted a virtual panel discussion on emerging concepts in joint command and control featuring Hon...

    By Robert O. Work, Chris Dougherty & Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • Space News
    • May 13, 2020
    What the government should or should not do to help space industry

    The COVID-19 economic slowdown will have lasting implications on the new space sector. Yet the United States cannot afford another lost decade of commercial space innovation. ...

    By Mikhail Grinberg

  • Commentary
    • The Washington Examiner
    • April 5, 2020
    Time for the US to declare independence from China

    Americans now know they can’t rely on China or even our allies to produce the goods we need during a pandemic. That’s why it’s time for the United States government to do what...

    By Anthony Vinci & Dr. Nadia Schadlow

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia