An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator landed aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Wednesday July 10, 2013, marking the first time an autonomous drone has completed such a fete. Under the observation of the both the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert the aircraft touched down without incident. The X-47B then made one more arrested landings aboard the carrier before scrubbing a third scheduled test landing. The Los Angeles Times reported, “A U.S. Navy drone aborted a third landing because of a malfunction in one of its three redundant navigation computers.”
“This is for us. To makes sure we keep the technological edge,” said Secretary Mabus addressing reporters in the hangar bay of the carrier after the first two drone landings. “To make sure we are in the forefront of technological change. That’s why we are talking about the future, because this is going to be a large part of the future.”
In a press release from the U.S. Navy, Rear Admiral Mat Winter, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons in Patuxent River, Md. said, “The July 10 landing was the beginning of the final part of three at-sea test periods for X-47B during the last eight months, culminating a decade of Navy unmanned integration efforts that show the Navy's readiness to move forward with unmanned carrier aviation.”
Developed by Northrop Grumman, The X-47B is being used by the U.S. Navy “as part of the unmanned combat air system carrier demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The program aims to develop and demonstrate which fighter sized tailless unmanned aircraft can be deployed from US Navy aircraft carriers,” said Naval-Technology.com.
"It isn't very often you get a glimpse of the future,” said Secretary Mabus. “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.”