It seems like science fiction, a combat aircraft without a pilot that is capable of flying itself, making its own decisions, neutralizing threats, and taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier.
Images credit: Northrop Grumman
the Northrop Grumman-built U.S. Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft successfully completed its historic first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
“On Feb. 4, 2011, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy successfully conducted the historic first flight of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft.”
The flight is a critical first step for the Navy/Northrop Grumman UCAS-D team toward demonstrating that a tailless, fighter-sized unmanned system can safely land and take off from the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier.
“First flight represents the compilation of numerous tests to validate the airworthiness of the aircraft, and the robustness and reliability of the software that allows it to operate as an autonomous system and eventually have the ability to take-off and land aboard an aircraft carrier,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy’s UCAS-D program manager.
source Northrop Grumman