The X-47B is the Navy's first unmanned stealth bomber drone, and on Fridy it completed a 29-minute test flight. How does it differ from, say, a Predator drone? The X-47B can be operated entirely by a computer, removing the need for a human to operatete the controls. And it's also the first drone capable of taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier.
"Today we got a glimpse towards the future as the Navy's first-ever tailless, jet-powered unmanned aircraft took to the skies," Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the program manager for the plane, said in a statement after the milestone light.
The New York Daily News has more about the plane:
Slightly smaller than the B-2 stealth bomber, the X-47B carries laser-guided bombs and can fly at 40,000 feet at speeds faster than 500 miles per hour.
Friday's test flight was just a taste of the fighter's capability.
The Navy and the plane's designer, Northrop Grumman, have planned 50 more test flights throughout the year.
The first plane will complete testing in late 2011, and a second will begin testing shortly thereafter, the Navy said.
Northrop built the warplane as part of a $636 million contract awarded by the Navy in 2007.
This is the successful test flight:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/WUDpGpEr1g4&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3 expand=1]