Northrop Grumman and U.S. Navy achieve first arrested landing by an unmanned aircraft

May 7, 2013
NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md., 7 May 2013. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC) and U.S. Navy officials conducted the first fly-in arrested landing of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator.

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md., 7 May 2013. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC) and U.S. Navy officials conducted the first fly-in arrested landing of the X-47BUnmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator.

The test, held 4 May at the Navy's shore-based catapult and arresting gear complex, represents the first arrested landing by an unmanned aircraft, explains a representative. During an arrested landing, the incoming aircraft extends its landing hook to catch a heavy cable extended across the aircraft landing area. The tension in the wire brings the aircraft to a rapid and controlled stop.

The event also marks the start of the final phase of testing prior to carrier-based trials, which are planned for later this month.

"The X-47B air vehicle performs exactly as predicted by the modeling, simulation, and surrogate testing we did early in the UCAS-D program," says Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman. "It takes off, flies, and lands within a few feet of its predicted path."

The testing included precision approaches, touch-and-go landings, and precision landings by the X-47B air vehicle. For the arrested landing, the X-47B used a navigation approach that closely mimics the technique it will use to land on an aircraft carrier underway at sea.

The arrested landing test followed more than three months of shore-based carrier suitability testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

"This precision, shore-based trap by the X-47B puts the UCAS Carrier Demonstration [UCAS-D] program on final approach for a rendezvous with naval aviation history," says Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy's UCAS program manager. "It moves us a critical step closer to proving that unmanned systems can be integrated seamlessly into Navy carrier operations."

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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