The Navy’s X-47B Compled Its Final Test Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt

X47B-Deck-TrialsWARBIRD RADIO – The Navy’s X-47B completed its final test aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Aug. 24 and returned to its home base at Naval Air Station Patuxent River after eight days at sea.  According to a recent news release, the X-47B flew in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft for the first time and conducted a total of five catapult launches, four arrestments and nine touch-and-go landings, including a night time shipboard flight deck handling evaluation.

“This is another detachment for the record books; all tests were safely and effectively executed,” said Capt. Beau Duarte, Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager.  “We have set the bar for the future of unmanned carrier aviation.”

Testing began Aug. 17 when the X-47B performed its initial cooperative launch and recovery cycle with an F/A-18.  With its automatic wing-fold capability and new tailhook retract system, the X-47B met the program’s objective to demonstrate that carrier-based manned and unmanned aircraft could maintain a 90 second aircraft launch and recovery interval.

Throughout the week, the Navy/Northrop Grumman test team captured X-47B flying quality and recovery wind condition data to evaluate how the aircraft responds to wake turbulence during approach and landing. This data will be used to improve a simulation model for use with carrier-based aircraft.

The team also evaluated how the unmanned aircraft performed during the first night time taxi and deck handling operations aboard a carrier. Since the shipboard environment presents different challenges at night, this test was an incremental step in developing the operational concept for more routine unmanned air system flight activity.

“We conducted X-47B night flight deck operations to understand the human interface and suitability of the unmanned air vehicle and deck operator’s hand-held control unit in the night environment,” said Barbara Weathers, X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System lead. “These lessons learned will help with the development of future unmanned platforms.”

The Navy will continue to execute shore-based testing at Patuxent River to further the goal of seamless integration with manned aircraft and to refine best practices for the evaluation of future unmanned air systems.

What A Week! The Next Generation For Naval Aviation Takes Flight

130514-N-ZZ999-005WARBIRD RADIO – It’s been a historic week for military aviation.  The next generation of US Naval aviation catapulted it’s way into history with the X-47B.  According to a news release from Northrop Grumman the U.S. Navy launched a new chapter in the history of unmanned systems – carrier-capable unmanned aircraft – by successfully catapulting the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush(CVN-77).

The launch occurred May 14th 2013 at 11:18 a.m. Eastern time while the carrier was under way off the coast of Virginia. The tailless, strike-fighter-sized aircraft flew autonomously back to Naval Air Station Patuxent River where it landed safely 65 minutes later.

“Today’s catapult launch of the X-47B is a momentous feat for naval aviation,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command. “It proves that the Navy’s goal of operating unmanned systems safely and effectively from aircraft carriers is well on its way to becoming a reality.”

Northrop Grumman is the Navy’s prime contractor for the UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The company designed, produced and is currently flight testing two X-47B air vehicles for the program. Air Vehicle 2 completed the catapult shot.

“Catapulting the unmanned X-47B off the USS George H.W. Bush is an event as historic as the Navy’s first catapult of a manned aircraft, which occurred in Nov. 1915 from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (ACR-12),” said Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman. “We are delighted to help launch this new era of naval capability.”

The X-47B catapult launch occurred just one day after the USS George H.W. Bush had departed from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.

The current at-sea period is the second such test period for the UCAS-D program. In December 2012, the program hoisted an X-47B aircraft aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), then demonstrated that the aircraft could be maneuvered safely and precisely on the ship’s flight deck, in its elevators and in its hangar bay.

In preparation for the launch, the UCAS-D program successfully completed a series of shore-based catapult shots at Naval Air Station Patuxent River between November and March. The air vehicle was transported by barge from Patuxent River to Naval Air Station Norfolk in early May, then hoisted aboard the ship.

Northrop Grumman’s UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt & Whitney, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, GE Aviation, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Lockheed Martin, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins. The latest news and information about the UCAS-D program can be found by clicking on the Quick Link posted below.

QUICK LINK:  X-47B

  • Not a Member Yet?

    Want to keep up with the latest news and get to know other Warbird fans?

    Click this link to register.

  • Studio Time

  • Our Sponsors