The U.S. Navy’s unmanned X-47B drone completed an important series of tests on Sunday from the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The aircraft, which demonstrated its first-ever carrier-based landing in 2013, was able to operate safely alongside manned aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet.
“Today, we showed that the X-47B could take off, land and fly in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft while maintaining normal flight deck operations,” said Capt. Beau Duarte, program manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation office, the U.S. Navy reported Sunday. “This is key for the future Carrier Air Wing.”
The X-47B’s next hurdles will include nighttime taxiing and flying, Business Insider reported Tuesday.
As the drone continues to hit milestones, the Navy’s goal of getting Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft in the flight for longer periods of time comes closers to reality. In April, the technology website Ars Technica reported that the Pentagon eventually wants large drones to conduct operations “during the hours that carriers were not conducting manned flight operations as a mid- to long-range surveillance patrol.”
UCLASS will feature drones that will be 70,000 and 80,000 pounds, which is twice the size of the Navy’s X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), Ars Technica reported.