> our title:
First Arrested Shore Landing for X-47B UAV
> original title:
X-47B Completes Key Milestone As It Prepares for Carrier Tests At Sea
(Source: US Naval Air Systems Command; issued May 6, 2013)
The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator uses its tailhook to catch a carrier-representative cable as it makes its first arrested landing, a required milestone before it begins carrier trials. (Northrop Grumman photo)
“Landing an unmanned aircraft on an aircraft carrier will be the greatest singular accomplishment for the UCAS demonstration and will serve as the culmination of over a decade of Navy unmanned carrier integration work”, said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager. “Shore based arrested landing testing here at NAS Patuxent River is our final check that the X-47B can meet that objective.”
During Saturday's test, the X-47B used a tailhook on the aircraft to catch a carrier representative cable, known as the MK-7 arresting gear, to quickly stop the aircraft. This is known as an arrested landing, the type of recovery required aboard aircraft carriers. The MK-7 arresting gear is an underground installation of actual carrier equipment that accommodates structural tests and aircraft/arresting gear compatibility studies with all models of U.S. Navy carrier aircraft.
“Shore-based testing allows our combined Navy/Northrop Grumman team to control test conditions before taking the aircraft to the ship,” said Matt Funk, Navy UCAS test team lead. “We are gradually building up to the maximum load conditions we expect to see during an arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier.”
This month the aircraft will undergo sea-based carrier testing, catapulting from the carrier deck and potentially completing landings aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).
"The entire system has performed very well across a large set of shore-based testing events including aircraft performance, flying qualities, navigation performance, catapult launches, and precision landings designed to stress system operation,” Engdahl said. “Our final carrier-landing software simulation shows excellent performance, flight test results are very good, and we are confident the X-47B will perform well on the ship.”
The X-47B is a tailless, autonomous aircraft designed with unique features for an unmanned aircraft, such as carrier suitable landing gear and structure. While the X-47B itself will not be used for operational use, the UCAS-D program is developing a concept of operations and demonstrating technologies for use in follow-on unmanned carrier based aircraft programs.
"This actual demonstration of the X-47B unmanned carrier operations is a first, essential step toward developing a carrier-based unmanned system for the U.S. Navy," said Rear Adm. Mat Winter, who leads the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. "A carrier-based unmanned aircraft will increase carrier strike group relevance, provide opportunities for training and readiness cost avoidance and enable our future forward deployed carrier air wings to provide continuous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.”
VIDEO: The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completes its first shore-based arrested landing May 4 at Patuxent River, Md.
Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Conduct First Arrested Landing of X-47B Unmanned Demonstrator
(Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation; issued May 6, 2013)
Conducted May 4 at the Navy's shore-based catapult and arresting gear complex here, the test represents the first arrested landing by an unmanned aircraft. It marks the beginning of the final phase of testing prior to carrier-based trials planned for later this month.
"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," said 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."
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.
Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman, said this first arrested landing reinforced what the team already knew.
"The X-47B air vehicle performs exactly as predicted by the modeling, simulation and surrogate testing we did early in the UCAS-D program," Johnson said. "It takes off, flies and lands within a few feet of its predicted path."
The arrested landing test culminates more than three months of shore-based carrier suitability testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. 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.
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.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cybersecurity, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.