The X-47B may never actually participate in combat operations, but the two technology demonstrators built by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy produced some of the most interesting (and unusual looking) military aviation photos of the past ten years. The unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) is, put simply, a drone developed with low observability and combat operations in mind. In practice, however, the thing looks like an alien spaceship being launched from U.S. aircraft carriers.
The experimental program officially came to a close in 2015, and as a result, most folks haven’t seen the X-47B do much of anything beyond look positively dangerous sitting on the flight deck of the USS George H.W. Bush during testing. So while the X-47B may be back on the shelf in favor of newer programs in development like the MQ-25 carrier based drone-refueler, it’s never a bad time to go back and take a look at just how unusual this experimental aircraft really was.