An X-47B drone successfully took off today from the deck of the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Atlantic, Reuters reports.
The drone made two low altitude approaches back near the deck — practicing potential landings — then glided off to land Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.
David Alexander at Reuters called the launch “making aviation history,” and indeed, the feat has wide military implications.
The next step, actually landing the drone on the deck, would widely expand the capabilities of America’s global military surveillance apparatus.
As writers at the Associated Press note:
(The X-47B) is considered particularly valuable because it’s the first that is designed specifically to take off and land on an aircraft carrier, allowing it to be used around the world without needing the permission of other countries to serve as a home base.
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