PATUXENT RIVER, Md., May 15 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator was launched Tuesday from the deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
Both Northrop and the Navy called the launched a new chapter in the history of unmanned aerial systems as well in U.S. naval aviation history.
"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.
It proves that the Navy's goal of operating unmanned systems safely and effectively from aircraft carriers is well on its way to becoming a reality."
Added Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop: "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 November 1915 from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina.
"We are delighted to help launch this new era of naval capability."
The technology and concept demonstrator, which has no tail, is the size of a fighter. It travels at subsonic speed, has a range of 2,100 nautical miles and a service ceiling of 40,000 feet.
The UCAV, launched occurred while the carrier was off the coast of Virginia. The X-47B flew autonomously to Naval Air Station Patuxent River and landed 65 minutes later.