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US Navy Validates Systems for UAV Carrier Ops

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Rockwell Collins’ Digital Network Technology Helps U.S. Navy Validate Systems Required to Operate X-47B Unmanned System from A Carrier

(Source: Rockwell Collins; issued August 19, 2011)

WASHINGTON --- Rockwell Collins Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) played a key role in the U.S. Navy’s recent demonstration of an autonomous carrier landing capability developed as part of the Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program.

During this historic operation, an F/A-18D aircraft served as a manned surrogate for the Northrop Grumman Corporation built X-47B unmanned aircraft, completing a series of carrier integration objectives that included launches, touch-and-go landings, and arrested landings. All of these maneuvers were supported by Rockwell Collins’ TTNT equipment, which enabled digital communications between the carrier and the F/A-18D, without human intervention.

“Successful autonomous carrier landing scenarios for unmanned aircraft require pinpoint navigation accuracy as well as absolute minimum data link latencies to ensure that the X-47B tracks and adjusts its flight path based on deck movement,” said Bob Haag, vice president and general manager of Communications Products for Rockwell Collins. “Our TTNT technology delivers very low latency, precise navigation and ad hoc networking capability that directly enabled this demonstration of carrier capable unmanned aircraft.”

The F/A-18D used in the demonstration was equipped with a subset of the avionics and guidance, navigation and control software that will allow the X-47B to perform precision landings on the carrier, he added.

UCAS-D prime contractor Northrop Grumman designed, produced and is currently flight testing the X-47B. As part of the program, the Navy, Northrop Grumman and Rockwell Collins conducted a series of tests of an integrated communication and navigation package. The UCAS-D aircraft/ship integration demonstration is focused on digitizing current communications and navigation information flow to incorporate capabilities required for unmanned flight operations aboard a carrier, with minimal impact to existing hardware, training and procedures.

TTNT is an advanced tactical data link providing an airborne networking capability for warfighters. It has been used in demonstrations on more than a dozen airborne and ground platforms, including the F-16, F-22, F-15, T-39, F/A-18, B-2, B-52, Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) and E-2C Hawkeye.

Rockwell Collins is a pioneer in the development and deployment of innovative communication and aviation electronic solutions for both commercial and government applications. Our expertise in flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, information management, and simulation and training is delivered by 20,000 employees, and a global service and support network that crosses 27 countries.