U.S. Navy, Northrop Grumman Complete X‑47B Flight Testing at Edwards Air Force Base

U.S. Navy, Northrop Grum­man Com­plete X‑47B Flight Test­ing at Edwards Air Force Base, Move Sec­ond Unmanned Air­craft to East Coast SAN DIEGO (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The first major phase of flight test­ing the X‑47B Unmanned Com­bat Air Sys­tem (UCAS) demon­stra­tor air­craft came to a suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion on May 15 when Northrop Grum­man Cor­po­ra­tion (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy wrapped up test­ing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The sec­ond Northrop Grum­man-built X‑47B unmanned air­craft lifts off for one of its final flights dur­ing the air wor­thi­ness test phase at Edwards Air Force Base.
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The air­wor­thi­ness test phase, which com­prised 23 flights by two air vehi­cles, proved that the X‑47B will per­form prop­er­ly at all speeds, weights and alti­tudes asso­ci­at­ed with the Navy’s Unmanned Com­bat Air Sys­tem Car­ri­er Demon­stra­tion (UCAS‑D) pro­gram. The flights includ­ed tests of sev­er­al air­craft maneu­vers required in the car­ri­er envi­ron­ment, help­ing to reduce risks asso­ci­at­ed with oper­at­ing a tail­less, unmanned air­craft from a Navy air­craft car­ri­er.

Northrop Grum­man is the Navy’s prime con­trac­tor for the UCAS‑D pro­gram.

“The X‑47B flight test pro­gram at Edwards will be remem­bered as a very suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion among the Navy, Northrop Grum­man and the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Cen­ter,” said Carl John­son, vice pres­i­dent and Navy UCAS Enter­prise pro­gram man­ag­er for Northrop Grumman’s Aero­space Sys­tems sec­tor. “The team has done out­stand­ing work test­ing and prepar­ing the air­craft for the next phase of the pro­gram, which will take place at Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent Riv­er, Md.”

Ear­li­er this morn­ing, he added, the team com­plet­ed the cross-coun­try move of the sec­ond of two X‑47Bs built by Northrop Grum­man from Edwards to Patux­ent Riv­er. Car­ri­er suit­abil­i­ty test­ing of the air­craft will begin lat­er this sum­mer.

“The X‑47B flight test pro­gram at Edwards demon­strat­ed con­vinc­ing­ly the matu­ri­ty, dura­bil­i­ty and per­for­mance of this rev­o­lu­tion­ary new unmanned sys­tem,” said John­son. “Through inno­va­tion, hard work and an endur­ing part­ner­ship with our cus­tomer, we laid the foun­da­tion for the upcom­ing car­ri­er inte­gra­tion sea tri­als.”

While at Edwards, the X‑47B air­craft reached alti­tudes exceed­ing 15,000 feet and demon­strat­ed mul­ti­ple maneu­vers rel­e­vant to car­ri­er oper­a­tions, includ­ing extend­ing and retract­ing a tail hook, com­plet­ing an autonomous “touch-and-go” land­ing – an avi­a­tion first – and per­form­ing land­ings at a high sink rate and in a heavy weight con­fig­u­ra­tion.

The Northrop Grum­man team is cur­rent­ly final­iz­ing the soft­ware that will be required to enter car­ri­er suit­abil­i­ty test­ing of the X‑47B. That test­ing will include cat­a­pult launch­es, arrest­ed land­ings and wire­less remote deck han­dling of the air­craft.

The first X‑47B was moved to Patux­ent Riv­er in Decem­ber 2011. It is cur­rent­ly under­go­ing elec­tro­mag­net­ic inter­fer­ence test­ing, which is designed to demon­strate that the X‑47B is com­pat­i­ble with the elec­tro­mag­net­ic sig­nal envi­ron­ment of an air­craft car­ri­er.

In 2013, the UCAS‑D pro­gram plans to demon­strate the abil­i­ty of the tail­less, autonomous, low-observ­able rel­e­vant X‑47B demon­stra­tor to oper­ate safe­ly from a Navy air­craft car­ri­er, includ­ing launch, recov­ery, bolter and wave-off per­for­mance. Demon­stra­tion of autonomous aer­i­al refu­el­ing by the X‑47B is planned for 2014. The pro­gram will also mature and demon­strate tech­nolo­gies required for future car­ri­er- capa­ble unmanned air sys­tem pro­grams. For the lat­est X‑47B news and infor­ma­tion, please vis­it www.as.northropgrumman.com/products/nucasx47b/.

Northrop Grum­man is a lead­ing glob­al secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny pro­vid­ing inno­v­a­tive sys­tems, prod­ucts and solu­tions in aero­space, elec­tron­ics, infor­ma­tion sys­tems, and tech­ni­cal ser­vices to gov­ern­ment and com­mer­cial cus­tomers world­wide. Please vis­it www.northropgrumman.com for more infor­ma­tion.

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