Navy's New Stealth Drone Makes Maiden Flight
X-47B can take off and land from aircraft carrier
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2011 5:28 AM CST
The X-47B takes off from Edwards Air Force Base .   (US Navy)

(Newser) – The US Navy says the next big leap forward in unmanned aerial warfare has successfully made its first flight. The robotic, bat-winger X-47B drone is designed to take off and land from aircraft carriers, a feat described as one of the most difficult in aviation. The military hopes the technology will allow it to use carrier-based drones with much longer ranges than manned aircraft, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Today we got a glimpse towards the future as the Navy's first-ever tailless, jet-powered unmanned aircraft took to the skies," a program manager said after observing the drone's maiden flight. The aircraft, made by Northrop Grumman, will be less visible to radar than most drones although it is not a full stealth aircraft. It is designed to operate more autonomously than Predator drones, which are operated by controllers on the ground.