WebHeader_Grove.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support the news you rely on from NHPR and NPR with a gift today!
NPR Blogs

In A First, Unmanned Navy Jet Lands On Aircraft Carrier

The U.S. Navy completed the first-ever landing of an unmanned aerial vehicle on an aircraft carrier today. The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air system landed on the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia. The X-47B is an experimental flying wing with a UFO-like profile.

"It isn't very often you get a glimpse of the future," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says. "Today, those of us aboard USS George H.W. Bush got that chance as we witnessed the X-47B make its first-ever arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier."

The Navy drone completed its first catapult takeoff from the same ship in May; it also tried carrier-style landings at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, catching a tailhook in a heavy cable in much the same way planes do on a carrier.

"By evolving and integrating new technology like the X-47B and the unmanned aircraft to follow," Mabus says, "carriers will remain relevant throughout their 50-year lifespan."

The X-47B has a wingspan of just over 62 feet, and a range of more than 2,000 nautical miles, the Navy says. It can fly at "high subsonic" speeds, with a maximum altitude above 40,000 feet.

In May, the Navy successfully conducted its "first ever carrier-based catapult launch" of the X-47B from the USS George H.W. Bush:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.