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.

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