Northrop Grumman X-47B Tailless UCAS Maiden Flight Video
this cool or what? Unmanned aerial dog fighting is not far off.
I suppose taking the human pilot out of the equation greatly reduces
risk to the mission and aircraft, but the drama is not quite there
anymore without the guy in the cockpit. Even in Star Trek and Star
Wars there were still humans (or aliens) flying the battle craft.
I must say it was always a bit strange that such high tech guns
seemed to miss their targets more often than they hit them; surely
automated systems acquired and tracked targets with infinitely greater
capability than our current computers. But I digress. You'll really
appreciate the creativity and genius of American and European engineering
that continually advanced the state of the art in every realm of
Now, in 2013, the X-47B has performed both aircraft
carrier launches and landings. It's good to see that in spite of
the societal degradation of American society that at least our military
members and contractors are still top-notch.
From the Northrop
X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned system currently
under development by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy’s
Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. Under
a contract awarded in 2007, the company has designed, developed
and is currently producing two X-47B aircraft. In the 2013 timeframe,
these aircraft will be used to demonstrate the first carrier-based
launches and recoveries by an autonomous, low-observable relevant
unmanned aircraft. The UCAS-D program will also be used to mature
relevant carrier landing and integration technologies, and to demonstrate
autonomous aerial refueling by the X-47B aircraft. "
X-47B Completes First Carrier-Based Arrested Landing
X-47B Completes First Carrier-based Launch
Northrop Grumman X-47B Tailless UCAS Maiden Flight
Number: NNS130710-06 Release Date:
7/10/2013 1:45:00 PM By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Vinson, USS
George H.W. Bush Public Affairs
USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH, At
Sea (NNS) -- The
X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completed
its first carrier-based arrested landing on board USS George H.W.
Bush (CVN 77) off the coast of Virginia July 10.
very often you get a glimpse of the future. Today, those of us aboard
USS George H.W. Bush got that chance as we witnessed the X-47B make
its first ever arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier," said
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "The operational unmanned aircraft
soon to be developed have the opportunity to radically change the
way presence and combat power are delivered from our aircraft carriers."
Today's demonstration was the first time a tailless, unmanned autonomous
aircraft landed on a modern aircraft carrier.
marks an historic event for naval aviation that Navy leaders believe
will impact the way the Navy integrates manned and unmanned aircraft
on the carrier flight deck in the future.
"Today we witnessed
the capstone moment for the Navy UCAS program as the team flawlessly
performed integrated carrier operations aboard USS George H.W. Bush
with the X-47B aircraft," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS Program
Manager. "Our precision landing performance, advanced autonomous
flight controls and digital carrier air traffic control environment
are a testament to the innovation and technical excellence of the
Navy and Northrop Grumman team."
The July 10 landing was
the beginning of the final part of three at-sea test periods for
X-47B during the last eight months, culminating a decade of Navy
unmanned integration efforts that show the Navy's readiness to move
forward with unmanned carrier aviation says Rear Adm. Mat Winter,
who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation
and Strike Weapons in Patuxent River, Md.
has enabled us to merge industry and government technologies together
which will enable the U.S. Navy to pursue future unmanned aviation
carrier capabilities," said Winter, who witnessed the historic landing.
"The government engineering and testing team in partnership with
our Northrop Grumman team members have matured the technologies
in this X-47B system to position us for today's event, which marks
a milestone in naval aviation."
During today's testing, the
X-47B completed the 35-minute transit from Pax River to the carrier
and caught the 3 wire with the aircraft's tailhook. The arrested
landing effectively brought the aircraft from approximately 145
knots to stop in less than 350 feet.
Shortly after the initial
landing, the aircraft was launched off the ship using the carrier's
catapult. The X-47B then proceeded to execute one more arrested
On the third approach to Bush the X-47B aircraft
self detected a navigation computer anomaly that required the air
vehicle to transit to the assigned shore based divert landing site,
Wallops Island Air Field. The X-47B navigated to and landed without
"We have been using the same [carrier] landing
technology for more than 50 years now and the idea that we can take
a large UAV and operate in that environment is fascinating," said
"Across the entire spectrum of military operations,
an integrated force of manned and unmanned platforms is the future,"
said Ray Mabus. "The X-47B's autonomous arrested landing aboard
USS George H.W. Bush shows how the Navy and Marine Corps are riding
the bow wave of technological advances to create this 21st century
The X-47B spent several weeks aboard aircraft carriers
in recent months. The Navy UCAS program successfully completed CVN
deck operations aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in December
2012 and aboard Bush in May. During the May underway period, the
X-47B completed its first-ever catapult launch. Since May, the integrated
test team conducted a number of shore-based arrestments at Pax River
in preparation for the demonstration aboard the ship.
have learned a lot from our flight deck operations, our shore-based
flight test and extensive modeling and simulation," Engdahl added.
"Our team has executed all major program objectives and developed
the concept of operations and demonstrated technologies for a future
unmanned carrier-based aircraft capability. [Today] we have proven
we can seamlessly integrate unmanned systems into the carrier environment."
"We have certainly come a long way in the 102 years since Eugene
Ely made the first arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier.
Naval aviators have always been at the forefront of operational
and tactical innovation, and today was no exception," said Mabus.
"People make unmanned aviation possible and it is people who will
provide the fresh thinking and new ideas so crucial to successes
like the X-47B program and the unmanned aircraft of the future."
Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form
of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey
through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which
all began in Mayo,