U.S. Navy stealth drone in first flight

Feb. 7, 2011 at 6:11 PM
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MOJAVE, Calif., Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy stealth drone designed to take off and land from an aircraft carrier has had its first test flight, officials said.

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration aircraft completed its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., last week, SPACE.com reported Monday.

The drone, built by Northrop Grumman, flew for 29 minutes, reaching an altitude of 5,000 feet.

"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," Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy's UCAS-D program manager, said.

The aircraft, 38 feet long with a 62-foot wingspan, will undergo more test flights at Edwards before moving to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland later this year for more testing.

The unmanned stealth craft is intended to allow aircraft carriers to remain farther out at sea, away from land-based missile systems, while launching airstrikes.

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