Navy’s new ‘UFO’ completes first phase of testing.
The X-47B unmanned fighter jet caused a stir as it was being transported to Maryland, with locals thinking they’d seen a UFO. In fact, the new jet is undergoing trials in an effort to become the first unmanned vehicle to complete a takeoff and landing from an aircraft carrier - all completely autonomously.
The first round of testing saw the jet climbing to 15,000 feet, before returning for multiple maneuvers including extending a tail hook on landing, which will be used to stop on the aircraft carrier. After a second phase of testing in Maryland, the Navy hopes to have it operating on an aircraft carrier in 2013. Because the takeoff and landings will all be completely controlled by the computers in the aircraft, the Navy will only have to focus on plotting out preprogrammed missions for the jet.
It’s also planned to begin testing of airbourne refuelling of the jet sometime in 2014.