Abstract: An autonomous navigational system for an airborne vehicle is disclosed which automatically updates its position and heading coordinates at each of a plurality of checkpoints along a preselected flight path. Prestored in a memory of the navigational system is a plurality of reference map images respectively associated with the plurality of checkpoints. Each reference map image is comprised of a plurality of terrain features associated with the terrain about an associated checkpoint. In operation, an acquisition unit senses an image of local terrain at each checkpoint. The relative sizes of reference and sensed map images vary with the mission requirements. A terrain feature extractor detects a plurality of terrain features contained in the sensed map image.