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US Navy Drone Makes First Aircraft Carrier Landing

RIA Novosti

06:50 11/07/2013 MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - X-47B, an experimental bat-winged unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of the US Navy, performed the first-ever arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier on Wednesday.

The US Navy said in a statement that the X-47B, built by Northrop Grumman Corp., landed on the moving flight of the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia. It was the first time a tailless, unmanned autonomous aircraft landed on a modern aircraft carrier.

"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," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said.

During the testing, the X-47B completed the 35-minute transit from Pax River to the carrier and caught the arresting wire. The arrested landing effectively brought the aircraft from approximately 145 knots to stop in less than 350 feet.

Shortly after the initial landing, the aircraft was launched off the ship using the carrier's catapult. The X-47B then proceeded to execute one more arrested landing.

Navy leaders describe the event as “historic” and believe it would impact the way the Navy integrates manned and unmanned aircraft on the carrier flight deck in the future.

Built with the stealth technology, X-47B is designed to carry out a wide range of combat missions - from search and surveillance operations to attacking enemy targets. It has a wingspan of 62 feet, a range of over 2,400 miles and is controlled almost entirely by a computer. The UAV is expected to enter service with the US Navy at around 2018.

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