X-47B ac­com­plishes first-ever car­rier touch-and-go aboard CVN 77


The Navy’s X-47B un­manned com­bat air sys­tem demon­stra­tor (UCAS-D) has be­gun touch and go land­ing op­er­a­tions aboard the air­craft car­rier USS Ge­orge H.W. Bush (CVN 77). For UCAS-D, this rep­re­sents the most sig­nif­i­cant tech­nol­ogy mat­u­ra­tion of the pro­gramme. Ship rel­a­tive nav­i­ga­tion and pre­ci­sion touch­down of the X-47B are crit­i­cal tech­nol­ogy ele­ments for all fu­ture un­manned car­rier avi­a­tion (UCA) air­craft.

Don Blot­ten­berger, UCAS-D Deputy Pro­gramme Man­ager, com­mented, “This land­ing, rub­ber hit­ting deck, is ex­tremely ful­fill­ing for the team and is the cul­mi­na­tion of years of rel­a­tive nav­i­ga­tion de­vel­op­ment. Now, we are set to demon­strate the fi­nal pieces of the demon­stra­tion.”

The UCAS-D test team and CVN 77 worked to­gether to suc­cess­fully com­plete the first ever launch of an un­manned air­craft from an air­craft car­rier prov­ing the im­por­tance of in­tro­duc­ing un­manned avi­a­tion into the al­ready pow­er­ful arse­nal of air­craft squadrons.

“We are proud to be a part of an­other his­toric first for Naval Avi­a­tion. The land­ing was spot-on and it’s im­pres­sive to wit­ness the evo­lu­tion of the Car­rier Air Wing,” said Cap­tain Brian E. Luther, Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer USS Ge­orge H.W. Bush (CVN 77)

The var­i­ous launch and land­ing op­er­a­tions of the X-47B on the flight deck of Ge­orge H.W. Bush sig­nify his­toric events for naval avi­a­tion his­tory. Th­ese demon­stra­tions dis­play the Navy’s readi- ness to move for­ward with un­manned car­rier avi­a­tion op­er­a­tions.

Cap­tain Jaime Eng­dahl, Pro­gramme Man­ager for Un­manned Com­bat Air Sys­tems Pro­gramme Of­fice, said, “When we op­er­ate in a very dy­namic and harsh car­rier en­vi­ron­ment, we need net­works and com­mu­ni­ca­tion links that have high in­tegrity and re­li­a­bil­ity to en­sure mis­sion suc­cess and pro­vide pre­cise nav­i­ga­tion and place­ment of an un­manned ve­hi­cle.”

The UCAS-D pro­gramme plans to con­duct shore-based ar­rested land­ings of the X-47B at NAS Patux­ent River in the com­ing months be­fore fi­nal car­rier-based ar­rest­ments later in 2013.

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