A fighter jet was landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier without the pilot touching the controls. An officer aboard the aircraft carrier was the one that guided the aircraft down via remote control. This system is named ATARI and is meant to solve the problems of landing unmanned aircraft during emergencies.
The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was used for test landings. ATARI (aircraft terminal approach remote inceptor) consists of an F/a-18 Hornet strike fighter outfitted for remote operation. The system gives the landing signal operator the ability to land an aircraft.
The officer, situated at the edge of the carrier flight deck has the instruments that allow him to see an incoming plane’s glidescope and lineup errors. This provides the officer an ideal vantage point for remotely landing the plane. The US Navy claims that the first successful carrier landing was done by a manned F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter. The aircraft performed three near-landings before coming in for an actual landing.
ATARI is a system that will eventually be applied to unmanned planes. Even though there are no unmanned carrier aircraft in the service, the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned tanker will be entering into service in the mid-2020s. The tanker will have its own landing and takeoff system but ATARI technology will be available should the need arise.
If the US Navy is successful in controlling these fighter jets during landing on an aircraft carrier, they can definitely control them during the rest of the flight and the fighter jets could be operated remotely without the use of any pilot at all. We will have to wait to see how further experiments pan out before we can make a comment on the future of unmanned jets.