X-47B snags cable in historic carrier landing. U.S. Navy photo
A robot aircraft made history when its tailhook caught a cable and it made a successful arrested landing on the flight deck of a moving aircraft carrier off the coast of Virginia today. "It isn't very often you get a glimpse of the future. Today, those of us aboard USS George H.W. Bush got that chance,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. The Northrop Grumman-built X-47B, a tail-less, unmanned combat aircraft about the size of a fighter, landed autonomously using GPS and sophisticated software. Named "Salty Dog 502," the unmanned aircraft took off from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and headed for the carrier, the same ship where an X-47B for the first time executed a catapult launch in May. Two arrested landings were successful, but after reporters and VIPs left, a third landing was aborted when the aircraft itself detected a navigation computer issue. It landed safely back on land. (Sources: Navy, NBC News, Los Angeles Times, Breaking Defense, 07/10/13) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman builds portions of two unmanned aircraft, Fire Scout and Global Hawk, in Moss Point, Miss.