May 7 - The US Navy's first sea-based, unmanned attack aircraft has passed its first arrested landing test, ahead of sea trials expected later this month. Rob Muir has more.
Developed by the US Navy and aerospace giant Northrop Gruman, the X-47 B is the first pilotless aircraft designed to take-off and land from an aircraft carrier at sea. Northrop Grumman says this, the plane's first arrested landing test, went exactly to plan. Sea tests are scheduled for later this month. The aircraft operates autonomously, taking instructions from a computer programme run by operators on the ground. It is designed to fly at altitudes above 15000 feet to conduct surveillance and strike missions within a radius of 1500 nautical miles. Flight testing began at Edwards Air Force Base in February, 2011. But the navy says it hopes to have unmanned operational aircraft aboard aircraft carriers by the end of the decade.