Butte, Montana Pasty
X47B Grumman Flying Pasty
Carrier Autonomous Launch photo
Boeing-s 2000-2000? X45 Version
The big story is the X47 program was mothballed after a successful campaign of launching and landing with Aircraft carriers at sea. The last word is that developers are making a military version in the meantime with bigger payloads and longer ranges.
The disadvantage is it wasn't stealthy in the first iterations. The advantage is that it flew and worked well. The program is scalable and transferable. Software loads from the autonomous aircraft can move to existing manned aircraft where refueling and flying of manned flights are then made autonomous for most military aircraft. Personnel on board could manage other duties.
Expect a public reveal where the next generation of UCAS to become stealthy with a 4,000 pound payload capability and cheap enough as a multiplier in the battlefield. Working with a F-35 type platform going into the battle space, the F-35 would be used as a bad uncle pounding radar, missiles and any defenses intended for the UCAS wing of aircraft.
Any armed adversarial wings would become overwhelmed by a combination of F-35's and other fourth generation aircraft having a multitude of X47 "bomb trucks" flying into harms way. The GBU class bombs from 500-2000 pound class would surgically take-out the ground installation and military options in moments where the 5th generation aircraft fly cover and give management for the whole battle space.
Satellite communication links would engage operators in warehouses, trailers and Naval ships a half a world away into the fracas even without an American human causality. The first few moments of any battle is where the risks arise for the incoming equipment. After the initial defensive barrage, all weapons location would be identified and neutralized. In fact the onslaught of cruise missiles may take out a majority of the ground weapons before the air armada arrives.