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Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Conduct First Arrested Landing of X-47B UAV

Published: Mon May 6th, 2013 via: Northrop Grumman

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – May 6, 2013 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy have conducted the first fly-in arrested landing of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator.

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."

Historic First Trap for X-47B
Historic First Trap for X-47B
Source: Northrop Grumman
Click to expand

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.


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