X-47B UCAV flies with arrester hook for carrier trials
The Fleet Readiness Center South West (FRCSW) in California surpassed the call of its traditional line of work to rapidly manufacture parts for a new, unmanned demonstrator aircraft being tested here. In late spring, a team from Patuxent River, Maryland, called on FRCSW at Naval Air Station North Island to redesign the hook point for the first unmanned aircraft designed to operate in and around an aircraft carrier — the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS).
To land on the flight deck of a carrier, aircraft need a tailhook to catch one of four arresting wires. When unsuccessful roll-in arrestment tests of the X-47B revealed the need for a modified hook point, the team needed to come up with a plan to make the modifications in order to perform arrested landings and catapult launches this fall.
“We reached out to the team at North Island because of their proven history of providing critically needed aircraft components with very short response times,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS programme manager at Pax River. “They have repaired, modified and delivered thousands of high quality aircraft components to the fleet. We knew they could get the job done.”
“The hook point is a fracture critical safety item so you’ve got to do the job right. You have to create them correctly,” said Mike Grice, FRCSW Systems Engineering Department head.