Time magazine has posted exclusive video showing the U.S. Navy’s next-generation X-47B unmanned stealth drone launching from and landing on an aircraft carrier for the first time.
“For the first time, the drone operated amid manned F-18 warplanes using the carrier at the same time, a key step toward integrating such robotcraft into naval aviation,” according to Time.
The test, which took place on the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, resulted in several important achievements for the Navy drone. A news release from Naval Air Systems Command noted that it included “five catapult launches, four arrestments [controlled stops], and nine touch-and-go landings.”
Barbara Weathers, a project supervisor on the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), said, “We conducted X-47B night flight deck operations to understand the human interface and suitability of the unmanned air vehicle and deck operator’s hand-held control unit in the night environment. These lessons learned will help with the development of future unmanned platforms.”
Northrop Grumman, the maker of the X-47B, shared this photo of the vehicle performing night operations on August 25.
— Northrop Grumman (@northropgrumman) August 26, 2014
Last year, the Navy Times reported that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus estimated that the X-47B would enter service in 2019.
Photo via U.S. Navy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)