Northrop Grumman engineers have spent the last couple of years designing a killer drone for the Navy. Today, the company announced that it's starting to build the X-47B Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems plane. It's the first attack drone "that can operate from both land bases and aircraft carriers," according to a Northrop press release.Or, at least, the X-47B will be the first, once it's completed. Putting the prototype robo-plane together should take about 18 months. A second X-47 should roll off of the assembly line about three to six months after that. And a third... well, we'll wait and see. Northrop wants the Defense Department to evaluate the first two before it builds another.The Pentagon is giving Northrop a billion bucks for the three vehicles, which are designed to "suppress enemy air defenses, perform electronic attack, conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and perform precision strike attacks," according to the company. The drones will each have a pair of 2,000 pound, satellite-guided bombs to help in the missions. The military wants to test flights to start by the end of 2007.
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