The US military recently completed its first unmanned drone aircraft carrier landing.  The US Navy’s X-47B drone “Salty Dog502″, landed on the USS George H W Bush off the coast of Virginia.  This is the first time an unmanned droned has landed on a ship.

“It isn’t very often you get a glimpse of the future. The operational unmanned aircraft soon to be developed have the opportunity to radically change the way presence and combat power is delivered from our aircraft carriers.” Said the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus

The X-47B is larger than the “Predator” unmanned drones that have stirred controversy in the news. The X-47B has a wingspan of about 62 feet and weighs 14,000 pounds, versus nearly 49 feet and about 1,100 pounds for the Predator.  The X-47B has a 2,000 mile range and the ability to carry the equivalent of two precision-guided bombs while the Predator drone only has a 675 mile range.

It has been reported that the X-47B will never be put into operational use (yeah right), but it will help Navy officials develop future carrier-based drones. Those drones could begin operating by 2020, according to Winter. Four companies are expected to compete for a contract to design the future unmanned aircraft, which will be awarded in Fiscal Year 2014.

Ready for the scary part; While Predators are typically piloted via remote control by someone in the U.S., the X-47B relies only on computer programs to tell it where to fly unless a human operator needs to step in. The Navy says the aircraft relies on precision GPS navigation, a high-integrity network connection and advanced flight control software to guide itself.

Hmm.  This is right out of the movie 2005 “Stealth”