Aviation history was made today in the Atlantic Ocean just off the Virginia coastline as the X-47B drone was successfully launched off of the George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier, reports The Virginian Pilot.
It’s the first time an unmanned aircraft was launched from the water.
The prototype plane is fitted with surveillance equipment that, according to Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy’s X-47B program manager, will:
…move us a critical step closer to proving that unmanned systems can be integrated seamlessly into Navy carrier operations.
After months of testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, on May 6, the plane finally made a successfully landing within the parameters required to land on a carrier.
NBC News reports about the X-47B:
When it comes to drones that can be programmed for tricky flight maneuvers, the X-47B is a tad more sophisticated than the Predator and Global Hawk deployed by the military today. Those drones can be programmed to land themselves, but only when their touchdown target is terra firma. The X-47B will be the U.S. Navy’s water baby.