Navy Launching Unmanned Surveillance Plane Off US East Coast

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The Navy is preparing to launch an unmanned aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier for the first time. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Navy is preparing to launch an unmanned aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier for the first time. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Navy is preparing to launch an unmanned aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier for the first time.

The X-47B is about the size of a traditional fighter plane. It can reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet and has a range of more than 2,100 nautical miles.

It is scheduled to catapult off the flight deck of the USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday.

The plane isn’t intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft.

Navy officials say the planes will provide around-the-clock carrier-based intelligence, surveillance and targeting capabilities.

Following the test launch, the plane will make a series of approaches toward the aircraft carrier before landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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