Recent financial reports from U.S.
aircraft manufacturer Northrop Grumman showed $2 billion in mystery money
("restricted programs", or secret stuff.) This means an unnamed
"black project," and one of the likely ones is a prototype of the U.S. Air
Force's next generation heavy bomber.
The air force has been openly discussing building their next heavy
bomber as pilotless, or as a "crew optional" aircraft. Meanwhile, over the past
few years, considerable work has been done on smaller UAV bombers, that appear
to be small scale versions of larger aircraft. The prime suspect is the X47B, a
15 ton, 36 feet long UAV, with a
wingspan of 47 feet. It has a two ton payload and able to stay in the air for
twelve hours. This is actually a navy
project, a scaled up model of the X47A. The Department of Defense wants the air
force and navy to agree on a single design, although the navy version will need
stronger landing gear and better corrosion protection (from the salt water
exposure) for carrier operations. Nevertheless, the X47B has "scale model
prototype of UAV heavy bomber" written all over it. The $2 billion that Northrop Grumman had to show in its mandatory
(as a corporation whose stock is publicly traded) financial reports would cover
the costs for that.