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X-47B: America's Crazy New Unmanned Fighter Jet Passes Key Test (VIDEO)

07/05/2013 08:52 BST | Updated 06/07/2013 10:12 BST

The US Navy has conducted a key test of its new unmanned, tail-less fighter jet.

The Northrop Grumman-designed X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System is designed as a fully-capable complement to existing manned fighter jets.

The plane is very large, with a wingspan of 62.1 feet, and has a strange design without tapered flat wings.

Instead it has a bulged, muscular look and an air-intake slit at the front which currently glows red, making the craft look like - in the words of Wired magazine - "a Cylon Raider from Battlestar: Galactica".

The main definition point of the craft - not to be confused with the Navy's (also terrifying) X37B space plane - is that it would be far more easily programmable than current drones. Instead of complex remote controls it could fly itself on a pre-defined course, while correcting for mistakes and weather.

X47B

X47B would also be based on an aircraft carrier - and a key part of getting it into combat is proving it can take off and land on such a small target.

Now the Navy has demonstrated the X-47B conducting an 'arrested landing' for the first time. In an arrested landing the plane uses a landing hook to catch a heavy cable extended across the ship - or in this case a landing strip - to bring it to a halt.

"This precision, shore-based trap by the X-47B puts the UCAS Carrier Demonstration program on final approach for a rendezvous with naval aviation history," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy's UCAS program manager.

"It moves us a critical step closer to proving that unmanned systems can be integrated seamlessly into Navy carrier operations."