Watch the Navy’s newest stealth drone, the X-47B, in action

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.

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)

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.