Navy Readies X-47B for Carrier Trials

 - May 9, 2013, 11:50 AM
The X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator completes its first shore-based arrested landing at Patuxent River, Md., on May 4. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy conducted the first shore-based arrested landing of the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator on May 4 in advance of sea-based trials planned this month.

The X-47B used its tailhook to catch a MK-7 carrier-representative cable extended across a landing area, mimicing the technique the UCAS will use to land on an aircraft carrier at sea. The arrested landing test culminated more than three months of shore-based carrier suitability testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

Starting this month, the X-47B will undergo sea-based carrier testing, catapulting from the deck and “potentially completing landings” aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, according to the Naval Air Systems Command. On May 6, the Navy issued photos of an X-47B being loaded on the carrier, which was preparing to conduct training operations in the Atlantic Ocean from Norfolk, Va.

“Landing an unmanned aircraft on an aircraft carrier will be the greatest singular accomplishment for the UCAS demonstration and will serve as the culmination of over a decade of Navy unmanned carrier integration work,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy’s UCAS program manager.