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X-47B Successfully Lands on an Aircraft Carrier

Written by on Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Its official, the Navy has safely conducted the first carrier landing of an unmanned aerial vehicle on an aircraft carrier. This single event, performed by the X-47B, marks a significant milestone in the development of an unmanned aircraft for future deployments on the decks of U.S. aircraft carriers.

On the 14th of May 2013, Northrop Grumman’s X-47B executed taxi tests on the USS George Bush and became the first unmanned carrier vehicle to catapult off an aircraft carrier. The catapult launch of the X-47B was the culmination of months of testing and preparation and the X-47B’s arrested landing two months later, resulted in a proof of concept that an unmanned vehicle is capable of integrating onto an aircraft carrier.

On the arrested landing, the X-47B had taken off from Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md and flew to the USS George Bush flanked by a pair of FA-18 Super Hornet chase planes. After flying overhead in the “break”, the X-47B cheap valium buy turned downwind in the traditional racetrack pattern and using onboard navigational systems, landed on the number three wire on the aircraft carrier. The number three wire is the targeted wire of the four on the aircraft carrier and after a very successful landing, taxied to the catapult and launched into the wind to turn downwind again for another successful landing.  The second landing was less successful with an arrestment of the number two wire and on the third approach the X-47B detected a navigation computer issue and was forced to divert to Wallops Island Air Field.

Despite the navigational computer issue, the X-47B has demonstrated a significant milestone in Naval Aviation and has proven that unmanned aerial vehicles can integrate with the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. As stated by the Secretary of Navy, Ray Mabus, “You saw the future today. This is the first of the next generation of naval aircraft.”

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