NORFOLK (AP) -- The U.S. Navy says it has landed a drone the size of a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier for the first time.

The X-47B experimental aircraft made the landing on USS George H.W. BushWednesday afternoon, a milestone that showcases the military's capability to have a computer program perform one of the most difficult tasks a pilot is asked to do.

The Navy can now move forward with plans to develop another unmanned aircraft that can provide around-the-clock surveillance while also possessing strike capability.

Critics in the U.S. and abroad have charged that drone strikes cause widespread civilian deaths and are conducted with inadequate oversight. Still, defense analysts say drones are the future of warfare.

Navy officials are describing the landing attempt as an historic event in aviation.

In May, the Navy launched the drone from Bush.

The Navy says the program is important because the drone could be used around the world without needing the permission of other countries to serve as a home base. Navy officials say the drone will provide around-the-clock intelligence, surveillance and targeting capabilities.

In the 2014 fiscal year, the Navy plans to demonstrate that the X-47B can be refueled in flight.

The program cost is $1.4 billion over eight years. Northrop Grumman was awarded the primary contract in 2007.

AP-WF-07-10-13 0937GMT

Watch the launch and landing as captured by the U.S. Navy:

For more videos of the landing, click the following links:

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