NPR logo In A First, Unmanned Navy Jet Lands On Aircraft Carrier

America

In A First, Unmanned Navy Jet Lands On Aircraft Carrier

YouTube

The U.S. Navy completed the first-ever landing of an unmanned aerial vehicle on an aircraft carrier today. The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air system landed on the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia. The X-47B is an experimental flying wing with a UFO-like profile.

"It isn't very often you get a glimpse of the future," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says. "Today, those of us aboard USS George H.W. Bush got that chance as we witnessed the X-47B make its first-ever arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier."

The Navy drone completed its first catapult takeoff from the same ship in May; it also tried carrier-style landings at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, catching a tailhook in a heavy cable in much the same way planes do on a carrier.

"By evolving and integrating new technology like the X-47B and the unmanned aircraft to follow," Mabus says, "carriers will remain relevant throughout their 50-year lifespan."

The X-47B has a wingspan of just over 62 feet, and a range of more than 2,000 nautical miles, the Navy says. It can fly at "high subsonic" speeds, with a maximum altitude above 40,000 feet.

In May, the Navy successfully conducted its "first ever carrier-based catapult launch" of the X-47B from the USS George H.W. Bush:

In May, the X-47B conducted its first carrier launch.

YouTube

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.