A military drone landed successfully on an aircraft carrier for the first time ever Wednesday afternoon.
The X-47B has been the center of attention for drone enthusiasts as it tests new technologies that would allow an unmanned aircraft to take off, conduct a mission and land on a carrier without any human piloting it remotely.
The drone launched from Patuxent River Naval Air Station Wednesday and landed perfectly aboard the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia at roughly 1:40 p.m, Navy officials say. It took off using the carrier's catapult launch and landed again around 2:25 p.m.
"It's considered a success. It caught the 'three wire,' " says Jamie Cosgrove, a spokeswoman for the project, describing the third of four wires that indicates a perfect landing for carrier-based aircraft.
The Navy plans to conduct one more test Wednesday afternoon if the weather holds.
The successful landing on Wednesday marks the culmination of the X-47B, which was created solely to test eight new technologies the military plans to use for future drones. These technologies include its stealth capabilities, aerodynamics, navigation and an improved data link which allows it to perform the highly technical landing aboard a carrier without anyone at the controls.
The Navy developed two X-47Bs for this project. They will now both be retired and transferred to a naval aviation museum.