U.S. Navy Tests Combined Manned & Unmanned Landings on Aircraft Carrier

The U.S. Navy has successfully tested the ability of the unmanned X-47B drone to execute takeoff and landings on an aircraft carrier (USS Theodore Roosevelt), along with a manned aircraft (an F/A-18 Hornet fighter plane). The test marks the first time that a drone has flown a mission in conjunction with manned aircraft as part of normal carrier operations. After an eight-minute flight, the X-47B executed an arrested landing, folded its wings, and taxied out of the landing area. The deck-based operator used newly developed deck handling control to manually move the aircraft out of the way of other aircraft, allowing the F/A-18 to touch down close behind the X-47B's recovery. The Navy will continue X-47B flight operations over the next year to refine the concept of operations to demonstrate the integration of unmanned carrier-based aircraft within the carrier environment and mature technologies for the future Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system.