15 May 2013
The U.S. Navy made aviation history on Tuesday by launching an unmanned jet off an aircraft carrier for the first time. The X-47B stealth drone was catapulted at 11:18 a.m. EDT from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia Beach, VA. The X-47B flew a series of pre-programmed maneuvers around the ship before heading off for Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland where it was scheduled to land. The successful launch of the X-47B is “an inflection point in history on how we will integrate manned and unmanned aircraft on carrier flight decks in the future,” Rear Adm. Mat Winter wrote on the Navy’s official blog. With a range of 2,000 nautical miles, an unmanned jet like the X-47B could give the Navy both a long-range strike and reconnaissance capability. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy)
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