A supply drone has safely landed on Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in a first for naval operations.
The Southampton-based W Autonomous Systems (WAS) drone flew from the Lizard Peninsula and onto the deck of HMS Prince of Wales off the Cornish coast, delivered supplies, then flew back in a milestone flight.
The goal of this experimental flight is to eventually deploy drones with a UK Carrier Strike Group so they can work alongside F-35 B Lightning II jets and naval Merlin and Wildcat helicopters.
Commanding Officer HMS Prince of Wales, Captain Richard Hewitt said: "Operating autonomous drones like this will become the norm across Royal Navy Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) in our 50-year life span.
"There's more to learn, more to exploit from these impressive strike carriers and this is the first of many opportunities to push the boundaries of UK carrier aviation to shape the future of Royal Naval carrier strikes as we prepare for CSG 25.
"We are all proud here in HMS Prince of Wales to achieve this."
The HCMC twin-engine light alloy twin-boom aircraft has the power to transport a payload of 100 kilogrammes up to 620 miles (1,000 kilometres).
It is capable of climbing up to 700 feet into the air and only requires a short and unprepared runway to take off.
The craft itself is powered by two four-stroke EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) engines and can run on bioethanol and synthetic fuels.
Head of flight operations for W Autonomous Systems, German Moreno said: "The HMC is a fixed-wing aircraft.
"It has a 10 metre wingspan, it is a twin-engine configuration aircraft and is capable of carrying up to 100 kilogrammes of payload.
"It does require a runway to take off and land.
"However, it has been designed for very short and unprepared runways, so we have done tests in operating less than 120m runways, and with grass and with gravel."
The drones incorporate a ground-breaking autopilot system, eliminating the need to be controlled remotely by trained pilots, and are designed to operate in the most challenging environments.
The trials off Cornwall were the first stage of an autumn programme pushing the boundaries of naval aviation for Britain's biggest warship.
HMS Prince of Wales will be operating off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States until Christmas as she conducts experiments with F-35 Lightning stealth fighters, MV-Osprey tilt-rotors, and the Mojave drone.