In May the Navy’s X-47B unmanned aircraft made a successful catapult takeoff from the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77). The aircraft had previously made an arrested landing ashore at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and its next hurdle will be making a full arrested landing on board a carrier. Assuming the carrier landing is successful, the X-47B will be a candidate for the role of carrier-based unmanned attack and reconnaissance.
Although not as fast as an F/A-18 or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it too is designed to penetrate sophisticated enemy air defenses using its stealthy characteristics. The existing Predator drone is much slower and is anything but stealthy; it must operate in a permissive environment to survive. Unlike the Predators that launch Hellfire missiles at terrorists, the X-47B can carry two heavy bombs internally. If it sacrifices stealth, it can carry more weapons externally. This is the same bomb load planned for the F-35. Range is comparable, and the X-47B is designed to be refueled in flight (this characteristic will be tested using surrogate aircraft).