Navy Drone Lands On Carrier: Watch Unmanned Aircraft X-47B Make First Ever Computer-Controlled Touchdown [VIDEO]
A Navy drone landed on an aircraft carrier on Wednesday, marking the first ever fully computerized landing of a drone the size of a fighter jet. The combat drone, which closely resembles a B-2 stealth bomber, has a 62-foot wingspan, can reach subsonic speeds, and has a range of 2,400 miles.
The Navy drone, which landed on the USS George HW Bush about 80 miles off the coast of Virginia, made history with its unprecedented unmanned landing.
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"By evolving and integrating new technology like the X-47B and the unmanned aircraft to follow, carriers will remain relevant throughout their 50-year lifespan," Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, said in a statement.
Unlike other combat drones, which are controlled remotely by a pilot, the X-47B is completely controlled by a computer. The Guardian reports the fact that the Navy drone landed on a carrier is a remarkable feat, given that the maneuver is one of the most difficult in aviation. From The Guardian:
The drone, followed by manned chase aircraft, flew from a Maryland airstrip on a pre-programmed flight path closely overseen by navy officials on land and on the deck of the Bush. It carried the call-sign Salty Dog 502. Once cleared by the landing signal officer, who had the distinction of being the first person to approve a robot for landing at sea, Salty Dog 502 put its hook down, caught the wire, and wrote a new chapter in naval history.
Watch a video of the historic Navy drone landing on the carrier:
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