A few months ago we were witnesses to aviation history, when the U.S. Navy’s X-47B became the first unmanned aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier.
The bat-winged drone executed a tricky “arrested landing,” meaning it used an onboard hook to catch a wire on the carrier’s deck to come to a stop. Nicknamed “Salty Dog,” the drone is among the most advanced aircraft in the Navy’s fleet, flying higher than 40,000 feet and able to reach high subsonic speeds. During its flight, Salty Dog was operated by a computer advanced enough to control speed, determine crosswinds and analyze other important flight data.
The Navy plans to add more unmanned aircraft to its fleet, allowing pilots to avoid risk and aircraft carriers to remain further away from potential threats.