A chance to see the future’: U.S. Navy lands fighter-jet sized drone on aircraft carrier for first time
The U.S. Navy successfully landed a drone the size of a fighter jet aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time Wednesday, showcasing the military’s capability to have a computer program perform one of the most difficult tasks that a pilot is asked to do.
The landing of the X-47B experimental aircraft means the Navy can move forward with its plans to develop another unmanned aircraft that will join the fleet alongside traditional airplanes to provide around-the-clock surveillance while also possessing a strike capability. It also would pave the way for the U.S. to launch unmanned aircraft without the need to obtain permission from other countries to use their bases.
Developed by Northrop Grumman under a 2007 contract at a cost of $1.4 billion, the X-47B is capable of carrying weapons and is designed to be the forerunner for a drone program that will provide around-the-clock intelligence, surveillance and targeting, according to the Navy, which has been giving updates on the project over the past few years. (Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)