X-47B unmanned aircraft makes historic first carrier landing

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator put another page in the history books on Wednesday with its first unmanned arrested-wire carrier landing. The drone flew 35 minutes from Patuxent River Naval Air Station to the carrier USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, where is landed at about 167 mph with an arresting wire catching its tail hook and bringing it to a stop in 350 ft..

This test marks the culmination of ten years of research by the Navy and Northrop Grumman to produce a prototype unmanned combat vehicle for the US Navy. Previously, the X-47B completed deck operations aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in December and the first UAV catapult launch in May…

“We have been using the same [carrier] landing technology for more than 50 years now and the idea that we can take a large UAV and operate in that environment is fascinating,” says Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy program manager. “When I think about all of the hours and all of the work-ups the team put into executing this event, I had no doubt the air vehicle was going to do exactly what it was supposed to do.”

After the initial landing, the X-47B was launched again from the carrier by catapult and did another arrested landing…

I know, I know. It’s a shame the military gets to do all this fascinating research.

When you live in the belly of the beast that is the last dedicated imperial superpower – to some extent – you grow accustomed to the rules of the game. Death and destruction trumps all other motivations. They get the dollars even without a requisition. The military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned against has ruled the United States for decades.

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