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Northrop, US Navy Integrate Manned, Unmanned Flight Ops

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Northrop Grumman, US Navy Integrate Manned, Unmanned Flight Operations

(Source: Northrop Grumman; issued Aug. 18, 2014)


USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea --- Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy offered a glimpse of the future of carrier aviation on Aug. 17 by conducting a series of cooperative flights from the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), using an X-47B Unmanned Air System (UCAS) and an F/A-18 Hornet.

The flights – the first time manned and unmanned carrier aircraft have operated together in the same carrier controlled landing pattern at the same at the same time – took place in the Eastern Atlantic. They offered Northrop Grumman and the Navy an opportunity to collect data that will help reduce risks associated with integrating unmanned aircraft with conventional manned carrier operations.

"The X-47B has again pushed the boundaries of the UCAS program by demonstrating that it can operate seamlessly with conventional carrier assets in one of the most demanding environments in the world," said Capt. Beau Duarte, the Navy's UCAS program manager.

During the flights, the X-47B flew in the landing pattern with the F/18-Hornet at approach speeds of 120 miles per hour, at a pattern altitude of 1,200 feet. Mission operators aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt had full control of the X-47B during flight maneuvers that involved several planned precision approaches to the carrier.

"Today's operation proved once again that the X-47B is a mature, reliable system that can integrate safely and effectively with manned carrier operations, both on the deck and in the air," said Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

At the completion of the manned/unmanned flight trials, the X-47B landed safely aboard CVN 71, catching and quickly releasing the arresting cable before folding its wings and taxiing clear of the landing area.

Northrop Grumman, the Navy's UCAS prime contractor, designed and produced the program's two X-47B air vehicles. Integrated test teams comprising of Northrop Grumman and Navy personnel have performed numerous flight and carrier suitability tests leading up to these trials.

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


Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. (ends)


USS Roosevelt Conducts UAV Testing

(Source: U.S Department of Defense; issued August 18, 2014)

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea --- The Navy’s experimental unmanned X-47B air vehicle returned to carrier operations aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt Aug. 17 and completed a series of tests, operating safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft.

Building on lessons learned from its first test period aboard the Roosevelt in November 2013, the X-47B team is now focused on perfecting deck operations and performing maneuvers with manned aircraft in the flight pattern.

“Today we showed that the X-47B could take off, land and fly in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft while maintaining normal flight deck operations,” said Navy Capt. Beau Duarte, program manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation office. “This is key for the future Carrier Air Wing.”

The first series of manned/unmanned operations began when the ship launched an F/A-18 and an X-47B. After an eight-minute flight, the X-47B executed an arrested landing, folded its wings and taxied out of the landing area. The deck-based operator used newly developed deck handling control to manually move the aircraft out of the way of other aircraft, allowing the F/A-18 to touch down close behind the X-47B’s recovery.

This cooperative launch and recovery sequence will be repeated multiple times over the course of the planned test periods. The X-47B performed multiple arrested landings, catapults, flight deck taxiing and deck refueling operations.

“For this test period, we really focused on integration with manned aircraft,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Hall, X-47B flight test director. “We re-engineered the tailhook retract actuator and updated operating software to expedite wingfold during taxi, both of which reduce time in the landing area post-recovery. Our goal was to minimize the time in the landing area and improve the flow with manned aircraft in the landing pattern.”

“The X-47B’s air vehicle performance, testing efficiency and safety technologies and procedures developed and tested throughout the program’s execution have paved the way for the Navy’s future carrier-based unmanned system capability,” said Navy Rear Adm. Mat Winter, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons.

The X-47B will remain aboard CVN 71 for the duration of the underway period. It will perform additional cooperative deck and flight operations with F/A-18s and complete night deck handling and flying quality evaluations.

The Navy will continue X-47B flight operations over the next year to refine the concept of operations to demonstrate the integration of unmanned carrier-based aircraft within the carrier environment and mature technologies for the future Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system.

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