The Navy's X-47B Drone Has Taken Off From a Carrier For the First Time

The X-47B prototype fighter UAV has already shown that it can stick a landing on the rolling deck of an aircraft carrier but can it launch from one as well? Turns out, the answer is a historic yes.

Today at 11:18 EST, one of Northrop Grumman's star Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator successfully catapult launched from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush just off the Maryland coast. This marks the first time the X-47B, or any UAV for that matter, has ever taken off from a carrier at sea.

During the UAV's roughly hour-long flight, it made a couple of mock approaches before flying back across Chesapeake Bay to its home at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. [Navy via CNet - Images: AP]