Navy catapults drone from aircraft carrier
May 15, 2013 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
- The launch from the USS George H.W. Bush is called a "watershed event"
- The drone landed at an air station in Maryland after a 65-minute flight
- The Navy hopes to land a drone on a carrier this summer
(CNN) -- The U.S. Navy has pulled off what the service's "air boss" called "a watershed event," launching a drone from an aircraft carrier.
The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completed a catapult launch from the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia Tuesday morning.
"Today we saw a small, but significant pixel in the future picture of our Navy as we begin integration of unmanned systems into arguably the most complex warfighting environment that exists today: the flight deck of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier," the "air boss," Vice Adm. David Buss, commander of Naval Air Forces, said in a statement.
An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator leaves the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush on Tuesday, May 14. The drone, propelled by a catapult, was the first to be launched from an aircraft carrier.
Photos: Drone launches from aircraft carrier
CNN Explains: Drones
The drone landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, after a 65-minute flight around Chesapeake Bay, the Navy said.
"The flight today demonstrated that the X-47B is capable of operation from a carrier, hand-off from one mission control station to another, flight through the national airspace, and recovery at another location without degradation in safety or precision," Matt Funk, the lead engineer for the UCAS program, said in statement.
The next milestone will be landing the craft back on the carrier as the flight deck pitches in the open sea, something onboard pilots consider one of the most difficult things they do. That may come sometime this summer, the Navy statement said.
Drone came within 200 feet of airliner in March
One state has a new law restricting drone use
Part of complete coverage on
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Following talks with the Pakistani government, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is making progress in the war on terror, and hopes to end the use of drone strikes "very soon."
July 26, 2013 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
The debate over the number of civilian casualties caused by CIA drone strikes in Pakistan is perhaps the most contentious issue in the often fraught U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
July 19, 2013 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Deer Trail, a small Colorado town, is considering a measure that would allow its residents to hunt for federal drones and shoot them down.
August 6, 2013 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
Click through our gallery to learn more about the varied appearances of drones.
May 23, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Counterterrorism drone strikes have killed four Americans overseas since 2009, the U.S. government acknowledged for the first time.
March 15, 2013 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
Farmers are on their way to tend their crops when a missile slams into their midst, thrusting shrapnel in all directions.
May 23, 2013 -- Updated 0116 GMT (0916 HKT)
Catch up on everything you need to know about drones.
May 24, 2013 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
Read myths behind the Obama administration's counterterrorism policies, focusing on the rationale and legal framework for the controversial CIA drone program and plans to wind down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
March 8, 2013 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
Drone warfare has always been a controversial method of war. But it became virtually sensational during the heated discussion over John Brennan's nomination to be CIA chief.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 2246 GMT (0646 HKT)
Senators ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder questions about the possible use of drones within the United States.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)
Attorney General Eric Holder is not entirely ruling out a scenario under which a drone strike would be ordered against Americans on U.S. soil, but says it has never been done previously and he could only see it being considered in an extraordinary circumstance.
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 1457 GMT (2257 HKT)
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on Attorney General Eric Holder's comments on authorizing use of lethal force in U.S.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0018 GMT (0818 HKT)
We are going to be hearing more and more about drones in American skies.
July 12, 2012 -- Updated 1220 GMT (2020 HKT)
Drones are currently a growth industry in the aviation sector, with scores of new companies competing for a slice of the market.
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
Brian Todd reports on an Alitalia pilot's report of spotting a drone flying near JFK airport in New York on Monday.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Here are some key facts about the U.S. drone program, including how and when they are used, and where.
February 15, 2013 -- Updated 1612 GMT (0012 HKT)
The use of drones to carry out military strikes is controversial, to say the least.
February 23, 2013 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
A list of 22 techniques for evading drone strikes shows that militants are trying to share their knowledge and reduce the number of casualties that American attacks are costing them.
Today's five most popular stories