The world took another step towards unrestricted global drone warfare - or just a few more options for American generals - on Tuesday, following the first launch of an unmanned aircraft from a seaborne carrier.

The Northrop Grumman-built X-47B prototype took off with the help of a catapult from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush for a 65-minute flight to a Naval airbase on land.

Vice Adm. David Buss said in a statement: "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."

x47b carrier launch

Future tests will test the ability of the X-47B to land on a carrier

What sets the X-47B apart from current drones in the US military arsenal is its ability to fly autonomously to a preset target with the ability to make decisions about course corrections.

Although drones cannot target without human intervention, campaign groups fear this is another step towards the reality of "killer robots" able to decide for themselves when to fire.

The ability to launch from carriers theoretically gives the aircraft a global reach.

Drones currently used in operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan for example require airfields in countries that may not be hospitable to the idea of hosting US hardware.

The X-47B is a tail-less drone, similar in shape to the more familiar B-2 stealth bomber, also made by Northrop Grumman.

It has a wingspan of 62ft, a range of 21,000 nautical miles and can carry 4,500lbs of weapons.

The US Navy has two of the prototype drones and is developing a larger version with a 172ft wingspan and a 10,000lbs payload.

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  • catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight

    An image provided by the US navy shows sailors moving an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) at dawn aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The drone was launched off the George H.W. Bush to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • An image provided by the US Navy shows sailors working on an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) at dawn aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The drone was launched off the George H.W. Bush to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • An image provided by the US Navy shows sailors moving an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) at dawn aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The drone was launched off the George H.W. Bush to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • In this image provided by the U.S. Navy an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator is towed Monday, May 13, 2013 into the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. The carrier is scheduled to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck Tuesday May 14, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication (AP Photo/US Navy, Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • This image provided by the US navy shows sailors moving an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator onto an aircraft elevator aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The drone was launched off the George H.W. Bush to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Phioto/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • X-47B

    The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator taxies Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft currently under development by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp., Alan Radecki)

  • X-47B

    The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator taxies Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Atlantic Ocean. Harry S. Truman is the first aircraft carrier to host test operations for an unmanned aircraft. The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft currently under development by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navyís Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp., Alan Radecki)

  • In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, Dave Lorenz, a Northrop Grumman deck operator, drives an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator using an arm-mounted controller on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Friday May 10, 2013. The George H.W. Bush is scheduled to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck Tuesday May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/US Navy, Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • In this image provided by the U.S. Navy an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator sits on an aircraft elevator of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. BushMonday May 6, 2013. The George H.W. Bush is scheduled to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck Tuesday May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/US Navy, Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis)

  • A Navy X-47B drone is launched off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The plane isn't intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • Dave Lorenz, Bruce McFadden

    Northrop Grumman test pilots, Dave Lorenz, of Md., center, Md., and Bruce McFadden, left, of Md., prepare to taxi the Navy X-47B drone to be launched off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone, left, taxis in front of an F/A18 as it is prepared to be launched off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. It was the Navy's first test flight of the unmanned aircraft off a carrier. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone is prepared for launch off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. It was the Navy's first test flight of the unmanned aircraft off a carrier. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone is launched off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The plane isn't intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • This image provided by the US navy shows the launch of an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush offf the coast of Virginia Tuesday may 14, 2013 (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy,Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis)

  • Navy Launches First Drone From Aircraft Carrier

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - MAY 14: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy courtesy of Northrop Grumman, an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles. (Photo by Alan Radecki/U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman via Getty Images)

  • Navy Launches First Drone From Aircraft Carrier

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - MAY 14: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to sucessfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles. (Photo by U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

  • Navy Launches First Drone From Aircraft Carrier

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - MAY 14: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to sucessfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Read Castillo/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

  • A Navy x-47B drone does a fly buy the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush after it was launched off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • Navy Launches First Drone From Aircraft Carrier

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - MAY 14: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator flies over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to sucessfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

  • A Navy X-47B drone does a fly buy the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush after it was launched off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The plane isn't intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone does a fly by the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush after it was launched from the carrier off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone does a fly buy the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush after it was launched off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The plane isn't intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)