X-47B manhunter drone could fly next year, to carry laser weapons and more

The manhunters are coming. Air Force pal and defense contractor Northrop Grumman has been tinkering with this X-47B drone since early in this century, but now things are getting serious. How serious? The sophisticated radio-controlled jet might be flying off aircraft carriers as early as next year. Besides calling the beast a “manhunter,” the company plans to equip the unmanned plane with air-to-air missiles, laser and microwave firepower (called “directed energy and rechargeable weapons”) that can take out enemy missiles.

Sure, there have been drones before, many armed with missiles, but none as big and dangerous as this 19-foot craft that can carry a 4500-lb. payload. As long as the plane's not autonomous, it looks like a great way to put the hurt on those who hate America while keeping our own guys out of harm’s way. Besides that, it’s one stealthy monster (check out the gallery of artists’ renditions below), which we certainly wouldn't like to see bearing down on us. Looks dangerous. Who knows what other secret weapons will be aboard?

Via Danger Room