Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy launched an unmanned aircraft from a carrier for the first time Tuesday by catapulting a combat air system from the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush off the coast of Maryland.
The X-47B demonstrator aircraft flew for 65 minutes and returned to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Northrop said Tuesday.
This milestone comes nearly five months after the X-47B maneuvered on the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman for its first test, intended to demonstrate the vehicle’s ability to move on a carrier’s deck.
“Catapulting the unmanned X-47B off the USS George H.W. Bush is an event as historic as the Navy’s first catapult of a manned aircraft, which occurred in Nov. 1915 from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (ACR-12),” said Carl Johnson, Northrop vice president and Navy UCAS program manager.
“Today’s catapult launch of the X-47B is a momentous feat for naval aviation,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command.
Northrop and the Navy catapulted the vehicle from shore-based locations between November and March prior to the most recent test, the company said.