The Navy’s UCAS-D, X-47B, took another huge step forward in its development today and I had to at least mention it because it is a pretty pivotal day in the future of aviation. I have previously written about the X-47B performing simulated aerial refueling, as well as its first arrested landing on ground, but today it took a major step forward when it performed its very first catapult launch from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
Planes have been landing on ship decks for over 100 years, and today the USS George H.W. Bush was the first carrier to see a plane take off without a person actually in it. It really leaves me kind of speechless to think about that.
Aviation has always been a breeding ground for innovation, and the Navy has often been heavily involved with that. Personally I thought carriers were the one place we may never see a UAV, but I have definitely been proven wrong. It is interesting how my views on UAVs have changed in less than a year.
I wrote that first article about the refueling a little over a year ago, and I was relatively skeptical about where UAVs would actually go, but now I am willing to believe they can do just about anything. Next up on the agenda for the X-47B is to make an arrested landing on a moving carrier, which they are planning to attempt in the next few weeks.