The X-47B successfully completed it's first shore-based tests of whether the aircraft is structurally sound and aeromechanically capable of getting airborne using the U.S. Navy's current steam catapult system. The drone cat shot took place at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Southern Maryland.
"The X-47B shore-based catapult launch we witnessed here today will leave a mark in history," said Vice Adm. David Dunaway, NAVAIR commander. "We are working toward the future integration of unmanned aircraft on the carrier deck, something we didn't envision 60 years ago when the steam catapult was first built here."
Here's a video of what the Navy called "the start of a new era for Naval Aviation":
This milestone follows another X-47 event we reported on earlier this week where one of the drones was hoisted aboard the USS Truman for basic shipboard suitability testing ahead of full-up sea trials in a few weeks.
So were the aviators at the nearby Naval Test Pilot School looking out the windows of their classrooms wondering if this "new era" would leave them with nothing to do once they finished the rigorous curriculum there? Were the helo guys hooting on the fixed wing jet boys telling them that they weren't the only ones getting replaced by robots?
And, most importantly, will this plot line get worked into the screenplay for "Top Gun 2," that reportedly is going to be set at NAS Pax River? (You know, stuff like engineers arguing over sine waves and fatigue life. Action-packed, Pee Wee!)
We'll keep you posted as the Invasion of the Machines continues . . .
Read the full article about the UCAS cat shot at Military.com.