X-47B drone completes at-sea deck handling trials

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md., 21 Dec. 2012. The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) have completed a series of deck handling trials for the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator aircraft aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).

The exercises, which were conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 17, demonstrated the ability to maneuver the tailless, strike-fighter-sized aircraft 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.

Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the UCAS-Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The company has designed and produced two X-47B aircraft for the program. 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.

The testing included taxiing the X-47B on the flight deck, maneuvering the aircraft up to the ship's catapults using the Northrop Grumman-designed Control Display Unit; taxiing the aircraft over the ship's arresting cables and conducting fueling operations. The team also moved the aircraft up and down the ship's elevators between the flight deck and the hangar bay.

In 2013, the UCAS-D program 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.

Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, General Electric, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins.


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