US Navy’s X-47B ramps up flight test


The X-47B un­manned com­bat air sys­tem is gear­ing up for shore-based flight test ac­tiv­i­ties in prepa­ra­tion for the next round of sea tri­als this sum­mer. The pro­gramme’s test team will con­duct var­i­ous test events with the X-47B over the next few months in an ef­fort to ma­ture air traf­fic con­trol and ground sup­port stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures for co-use of airspace be­tween un­manned and manned air­craft dur­ing day and nighttime op­er­a­tions.

“Con­tin­u­ing to fly the X-47B in the Patux­ent River air space will fur­ther ex­er­cise the re­search, test, de­vel­op­ment and eval­u­a­tion (RDT&E) in­fra­struc­ture with an un­manned air sys­tem,” said Capt. Beau Duarte, Pro­gram Man­ager for Un­manned Car­rier Avi­a­tion at Patux­ent River. “These tests are a build-up for the next car­rier event this sum­mer.”

As the first un­manned air­craft to take off and land from a mod­ern air­craft car­rier, X-47B will once again em­bark on USS Theodore Roo­sevelt (CVN 71) in the Au­gust time frame. This time, the test team will fo­cus on per­fect­ing flight deck op­er­a­tions and in­te­grat­ing the X-47B with manned car­rier air­craft.

The Navy will con­duct X-47B flight op­er­a­tions over the next year to ma­ture tech­nolo­gies for the fu­ture un­manned car­rier launched air­borne sur­veil­lance and strike sys­tem and re­fine the con­cept of op­er­a­tions to demon­strate the in­te­gra­tion of un­manned car­rier-based air­craft within the car­rier en­vi­ron­ment, Duarte said.

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