Northrop Grumman tests engine for X-47B unmanned stealth fighter jet

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., 15 August 2005. Pratt & Whitney and Northrop Grumman Corp. have begun ground testing the power plant for the X-47B Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) at Pratt & Whitney's advanced test facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Aug 15th, 2005

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., 15 August 2005. Pratt & Whitney and Northrop Grumman Corp. have begun ground testing the power plant for the X-47B Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) at Pratt & Whitney's advanced test facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Pratt & Whitney completed assembly of the first ground test engine at the company's engine center in San Antonio, Texas. The engine was delivered in June and has accumulated over 80 ground test hours to date.

"The ground testing program will validate all major elements of the X-47B propulsion system, including inlet compatibility, exhaust system performance and durability, controls, and subsystem integration," said Jim Reed, J-UCAS program manager for Pratt & Whitney. "Included in the ground test run series was a simulated carrier approach throttle cycle. The engine performance has been flawless to date."

The J-UCAS engine is a modified version of the Pratt & Whitney F100-220E that powers current F-15E and F-16 aircraft. Pratt & Whitney joined the Northrop Grumman-led J-UCAS X-47 team in 2003. The team will produce up to three full-scale X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrators for the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

"This is the first of many critical milestones the J-UCAS Engine Team is challenged with," said Scott Winship, the J-UCAS program director. "The engine has been running flawlessly and we look forward to commencement of flight testing in 2008 when we'll demonstrate the X-47's operational capabilities."

The joint DARPA/Air Force/Navy J-UCAS program will demonstrate the technical feasibility and operational utility of low observability or "stealth" land- and sea-based unmanned surveillance-attack aircraft, and provide the Air Force and Navy the option to acquire these systems early in the next decade.

To this end, the X-47B is designed to demonstrate a variety of foundational system capabilities, including land- and carrier-based operations, automated aerial refueling, and such key missions as persistent surveillance and reconnaissance, all-weather precision targeting, and precision attack of fixed and mobile surface targets.

The X-47B is Northrop Grumman's initial air vehicle configuration for the modular X-47 system, which is capable of supporting a broad range of advanced unmanned air vehicle configurations and military operational performance requirements.

Northrop Grumman's J-UCAS program is being led by the company's Integrated Systems sector, headquartered in El Segundo, Calif. Other major industry teammates include Lockheed Martin Corp. and GKN Aerospace.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use on networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare. For more information, see www.northropgrumman.com.

Pratt & Whitney military engine models include the F135 for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; the F119 powering the F/A-22 Raptor; the F117 for the C-17 Globemaster III; the F100 for F-15 and F-16 fighters; the J52 for the EA-6B Prowler; the TF33 powering AWACS, Joint STARS, B-52, C-141 and KC-135 aircraft; the TF30 for the F-111, the PT6 for T-6A and UH-1N aircraft; and JT15 for the T-1A trainer and Pegasus UCAV.

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies company, is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. For more information, see www.pratt-whitney.com.

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