Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Understanding Boeing's Role in the Navy's Next-Generation Drone Warfare

Navy tests X-47B in 2013 Al Jazeera photo.
Within days of antiwar protesters making a lot of noise at the 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show -- with a strong emphasis on the role of Boeing in the killing in Gaza and in next-generation killer drone technology -- the U.S. Navy quietly conducted tests that may change the way the Navy goes to war.

"Navy conducts first series of drone and manned fighter jet operations" by W.J. Hennigan (LA Times, August 18, 2014) describes the first tests of carrier-launched killer drones working in tandem with fighter jets. The experimental drone being flown that day was a Northrup Grumman version (X-47B) of the next generation killer drone; the fighter was the F/A-18 - the Boeing fighter being used for renewed bombing in Iraq.

W.J. Hennigan has done consistent reporting on the move towards drones in the Navy. In "Navy plan for carrier-based drones takes flak from lawmakers," he explains the role of multiple defense contractors -- including Boeing -- in developing next-generation designs for the killer drone.

Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Atomics are all
developing next-generation carrier-based killer drones for the Navy.
(Source: LA Times, "Navy plan for carrier-based drones takes flak from lawmakers")

Hennigan says the dronificaition of the Navy will be tough for a lot of people in the aviation part of the Navy to swallow.  Apparently Navy people think in terms of manned aircraft, and want drones to stick to reconnaissance; the people in Congress who are pushing the appropriations see massive spending (and employment) from the unmanned drones, and want those drones to do have the fullest possible range of bombing capabilities.

The stakes are high -- including impacting other major defense programs. "A deep-penetrating stealthy drone that could fly farther and longer could be seen as a potential challenger to the nearly $400-billion F-35 program," Hennigan reports.

For more background, see the Wikipedia article on the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike program.

Related posts

Just as it did in 2001, the U.S. has had another close dangerous encounter between one of its surveillance planes and a Chinese fighter in the air near the coast of China.

Like the 2001 event, it's making a lot of people ask what the hell the U.S. is doing provoking China where they live.

(See Boeing: Where There's Trouble . . . )

  No Drones Illinois has endorsed the following call by Anti-War Committee – Chicago, Jews for Justice in Palestine, U.S. Palestinian Community Network and 8th Day Center for Justice: Protest Boeing Death Machines in Gaza: Demand Chicago Drop Boeing from Air and Water Show!

(See No Drones Illinois Endorses Call to Drop Boeing from Chicago Air and Water Show)

"The U.S.'s use of drone warfare has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of children, many of whom live in countries where we have not declared war, yet Boeing has decided to pursue a Navy contract for the prototype for the next combat drone. This is unacceptable", said Kait McIntyre of the Chicago Anti-War Committee (AWC), at the annual stockholders' meeting of the Boeing Corporation.

 (See Activists Challenge Boeing to Disinvest from Drone Research)

People in Chicago like to walk down the street and look the other way, saying, "This doesn't have anything to do with me." When you ask them to take a flyer, or to learn more about this problem, they wave it away with a bland, "I'm good . . . ."

(See This is YOUR War, Chicago! (Boeing F/A-18's Begin Strikes in Iraq) )


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