Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy completed the first shore-based trials in early November of a wireless handheld device that will enable operators to maneuver the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) on Navy carrier decks. The tests were conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
The UCAS Aircraft Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) team proved the ability of the handheld control display unit (CDU) to operate the thrust of the aircraft’s Pratt & Whitney F100-220U engine; to roll the aircraft forward, brake and stop; to use the nose wheel steering to execute precision turns; and to maneuver the aircraft into a catapult or out of the landing area following a mock carrier landing. The operation of the CDU will be validated in an actual carrier environment later this year.
Northrop Grumman is the Navy’s UCAS-D prime contractor. In 2013, the program plans to demonstrate the ability of an X-47B to safely operate from an aircraft carrier, including launch, recovery, and air traffic control operations. According to the Navy, the X-47B’s aircraft carrier takeoff gross weight is approximately 44,500 pounds.