The US military has conducted a test flight of an assassination drone as large as a fighter jet off the deck of an American aircraft carrier, pointing to plans to fly the unmanned aircraft from anywhere in the world.
Tuesdayâ„¢s test flight of the X-47B drone, designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier, will mean the American military would no longer have to seek the permission of foreign governments to use their air bases to launch unmanned planes, AP reports on Wednesday.
“As our access to overseas ports, forward operating locations and airspace is diminished around the world, the value of the aircraft carrier and the air wing becomes more and more important,” said Rear Adm. Ted Branch, commander of Naval Air Forces Atlantic, following the test flight off the coast of Virginia in Eastern United States.
“So today is history,” said Adm. Branch.
The persisting US militaryâ„¢s bid to expand its capabilities to launch its assassination and spying drones comes amid the rising criticism of the American use of Predator and Reaper aircrafts to conduct intelligence missions and launch terror missile strikes against targets in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen as part of its so-called targeted killing plans.
This is while a growing number of critics in the US and abroad have charged that assassination drone attacks cause massive civilian deaths and are carried out with inadequate oversight.
“This is the next generation of military technology – the unmanned vehicles, the unmanned submersibles, the unmanned aircraft,” said James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Å“This will be the future of warfare, and it will be a warfare that is a little less risky for humans but maybe a little more effective when it comes to delivering weapons and effect.”
According to the report, while the X-47B isn’t intended for operational use, it will assist Navy authorities to develop future carrier-based drones.
The drones could begin operating by 2020, according to Rear Adm. Mat Winter, the Navy’s program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons.
Developed by Northrop Grumman under a 2007 contract at a cost of $1.4 billion, the X-47B is capable of carrying weapons and providing around-the-clock intelligence, surveillance and targeting, according to the report, citing Navy officials.
The X-47B can reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and has a range of more than 2,100 nautical miles (3,890 kilometers), versus 675 for the Predator.
Moreover, the US Navy plans to demonstrate that the assassination drone can be refueled in flight, which would give it even greater range.
This article originally appeared on : Press TV