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US Navy's X-47B is the first unmanned plane launched from an aircraft carrier (video)

Alexis Santos

After limbering up with taxi tests since December, the X-47B unmanned combat air system has finally taken off from an aircraft carrier, making it the first pilotless plane to have successfully done so, and with a catapult launch to boot. Despite the craft's ability to fly on its own, it was controlled by a human aboard the George H.W. Bush after it was flung from the ship. Once in the air, the Northrop Grumman-built craft was guided back for a landing on a runway planted on terra firm. Now that the bird's proved it can handle launches at sea, other excursions will put the automatic navigation and landing features through their paces. Hit the break for a video of the X-47B taking to the skies.

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