X-47B bat-winged unmanned aircraft – Maiden flight

The US Navy X-47B UCAS-D (Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration) successfully completed its first flight at Edwards AFB on February 4, 2011.

The flight which was conducted by a US Navy/Northrop Grumman test team, lasted 29 minutes. The flight test was aimed to provide test data to check the system software for guidance and navigation, and the aerodynamic control of the tailless drone. The X-47B is deemed to safely take off from, and land on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Other flight tests should be performed to validate the airworthiness of the drone in Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS Pax River), Maryland till 2013. Here is the maiden flight video:


British UCAV demonstrator – Taranis


X-47B – US NAVY Joint UCAS-D to be unveiled late 2010


US Boeing UAV helicopter tested in Belize

The A160 « Hummingbird » or YMQ-18 – its military designation – is an American unmanned helicopter that is being tested in Central America, in Belize. This VTOL – Vertical Takeoff and Landing – prototype has been developed by the U.S. DARPA & the Boeing’s R&D division, the Phantom Works. The DARPA calls this drone FORESTER – FOPEN (FOliage PENetration) Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar. You can watch the video hereafter:


Beriev Be-2500 almost twice as big as A380!

The Beriev Be-2500 Neptune is a super-heavy transport seaplane proposed by the Beriev Aircraft Company of Russia. Its maximum take-off weight should reach 2,500 tons! It would be the largest aircraft ever proposed. It might weigh four times more than the largest aircraft in the world, the Antonov An-225.

This gigantic project would range from $10 to $15 billion. The Be-2500 would be a « flying ship » able to compete with the maritime shipping and air transport industries. Its size is not clearly quoted due to a discrepancy in the figures available. However, it would nearly double the Airbus A380 size!

It is deemed to be an ekranoplane (also known as a « wing-in-ground-effect – WIG », « flarecraft », « wing-in-surface-effect ship – WISE », « sea skimmer », « ground effect vehicle – GEV » thanks to its cushion of high-pressure air provided by the aerodynamic interaction between the wings and the surface, which is known as ground effect.

Last but not least, it could fly far over the surface (airborne) like any heavy cargo. Watch what it could look below: