US Navy complete atsea deck handling trials of X-47B unmanned demonstrator
Northrop Grumman Corporation and the US Navy have successfully completed a series of deck handling trials of the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator aircraft aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.
The exercises, conducted recently demonstrated the ability to manoeuvre the tailless, strike-fighter-sized aircraft quickly and precisely on the flight deck using a wireless handheld controller. They are the latest in a series of test activities leading up to the first carrier landings of the X-47B planned for 2013.
“The X-47B deck trials proved convincingly that the design and operation of the aircraft are fully compatible with the rhythm and operational requirements of the carrier flight deck,” said Mike Mackey, UCAS-D Programme Director for Northrop Grum- man Aerospace Systems. “They provided a major boost to the team’s confidence as we move steadily towards our first carrier landings next year.”
Northrop Grumman is the Navy’s prime contractor for the UCAS-carrier demonstration (UCAS-D) programme. The company designed and produced two X-47B aircraft for the programme. One aircraft was on the ship; the other remains at Naval Air Station Patuxent River where it is undergoing additional shore-based carrier suitability testing.
The deck trials were conducted both while the USS Harry S. Truman was in port at Naval Station Norfolk, and while the ship was under way off the coast of Virginia.
In 2013, the UCAS-D programme plans to begin conducting shore-based arrested landings of the X-47B at Patuxent River. Carrier trials, which will include both landings and catapult launches, are planned for later in the spring.