UCAS-D Catapult Launch

By Lee Hudson / May 14, 2013 at 5:04 PM

The Navy completed its first ever, carrier-based catapult launch of an unmanned aerial system from the George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) off the coast of Virginia today.

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator (UCAS-D) launched from the carrier's deck at 11:18 a.m., executed several low approaches to the warship and landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, after a 65 minute flight, according to a Navy statement.

"Today we saw a small, but significant pixel in the future picture of our Navy as we begin integration unmanned systems into arguably the most complex warfighting environment that exists today: the flight deck of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier," Vice Adm. David Buss, Naval Air Forces commander, said in the statement.

Over the next few weeks the X-47B will fly approaches to the ship multiple times and eventually land on the pitching flight deck, Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy's Unmanned Air Combat System program manager, said in the statement.