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from The Great Debate:

The case for sea-based drones

Photo

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator is towed into the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), May 13, 2013. CREDIT: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter

If all goes according to plan, sometime on Tuesday the military balance of power in the Pacific Ocean could tilt to America's advantage. The U.S. Navy's main warships, whose firepower now cannot match the range of Chinese missiles, could gain a new weapon that more than levels the playing field.

It all boils down to a 62-foot-wide, hook-nosed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle built by Northrop Grumman. This new drone is set to launch off the 1,092-foot-long flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, known in Navy parlance as CVN-77 and until Tuesday morning docked at the sprawling naval base in Norfolk, Virginia.

The test launch of Northrop's X-47B from one of the carrier's steam-driven catapults, part of a roughly $1 billion development effort, could mark the first successful deployment of a modern, jet-powered drone from a ship – and is likely to bring the burgeoning era of military robots to the sea.

from Photographers' Blog:

A slow boat to Myanmar – nearly

I was at the airport shooting pictures to illustrate a Singapore Airlines story when the office rang to say there was an opportunity, if we could move quickly enough, to embed with the U.S. Naval relief operation heading to cyclone hit Myanmar.

malucca sunset

Early the next morning I was aboard a U.S. Navy supply ship heading up the Malacca Strait. There were 8 journalists on board - writers, a BBC tv reporter and cameramen, and 3 photographers. It was a 2 day trip up to the USS Essex, and with little else to do on board, I photographed the crew preparing supplies which would be transferred when we arrived. With only experience of ferries to go on I'd feared getting horribly seasick - but was holding up okay, and excited about what we'd find when we got to the Navy ships.

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