Royal Navy history has been made just off the Cornish coast with an autonomous drone, designed to carry supplies, flying on and off a Royal Navy aircraft carrier for the very first time .
There’s no pilot controlling it, the aircraft is just told where the ship is and automatically lands.
The maiden flight started at Predannack Airfield on Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula. The drone, or pilotless plane, has been developed by W Autonomous Systems.
Head of Flight Operations, German Moreno said: “The ship is a moving platform, it is not just us practising here on a fixed runway. It requires skills. It requires lots of sensors, and lots of engineering behind it. But we have done lots of testing and we believe that we have the system ready for it.”
The former World War Two RAF base at Predannack is now used by the Royal Navy for testing drone technology.
Lieutenant Commander Mike Anderson from the Royal Navy said: “This is very exciting. This has been in development for quite a long time, and this particular trial has been on the cards for a significant amount of time now as we're trying to make it work. So to see it all coming together on a brilliant day down here in Cornwall is amazing.”
The drone has a range of more than 600 miles and can carry around 100 kilogrammes of supplies.
It took off from Predannack and after a 20-minute flight made its first-ever touchdown on the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales which was sailing close to the Lizard Peninsular.
In the near future, this type of technology will be used to deliver supplies including spare parts and even mail to aircraft carriers without the need to launch helicopters.
Lieutenant Commander Anderson added: “As part of an ongoing project that we've got within the future of maritime aviation force, we're looking at the next 20 to 30 years and how the Royal Navy is going to progress.
"This particular system is looking at conducting resupply at sea, allowing us to free up crew capabilities to do their core job and use a more efficient but ultimately cheaper system to bring the supplies to and from the carrier at sea.”