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.

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