An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator conducts a touch-and-go maneuver on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. (MC2 Tony D. Curtis / Navy)
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The Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator has been named as one of Popular Mechanics Magazine’s 2013 Breakthrough Award recipients.
“Landing a fighter jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier is a Navy pilot’s toughest challenge,” said the Popular Mechanics announcement. “On July 10, 2013, the bat-winged X-47B jet landed aboard the USS George H.W. Bush in a split second of smoke and squealing rubber. It was a scene straight out of ‘Top Gun,’ with one key difference: The X-47B had no pilot.”
The X-47B is the first Navy system to receive the prize since the awards began in 2005. “Now that we’ve demonstrated we can successfully launch, maneuver and land a large, tailless, unmanned aircraft onto an aircraft carrier, we’ve proven that the technologies and concept of operations are effective,” said Navy UCAS Program Manager Capt. Jaime Engdahl.