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X-47B- The First Unmanned Carrier Vehicle

Written by on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Its official, the Navy has safely conducted the first catapult launch of an unmanned aerial vehicle off an aircraft carrier and has the unique distinction to be titled the first unmanned carrier vehicle.

On 14 May 2013, Northrop Grumman’s X-47B executed taxi tests on the USS George Bush with the assistance from taxi directors using a remote control device. After completing the taxi tests, the taxi directors positioned the first unmanned carrier vehicle along the catapult track and extended the launch bar into the catapult shuttle. After a quick systems check and a flight control test, the X-47B was put into tension by moving the shuttle into position for launch and the X-47B’s throttles were advance to military power. After receiving a green light for launch, the Catapult Officer executed a sharp salute and touched the flight deck and pointed down the carrier track, which authorized the X-47B for launch. Once the catapult button was pushed, the first unmanned carrier vehicle rumbled cialis online shop down the catapult track and the X-47B jumped off the deck and became airborne.

After the launch, the X-47B conducted two low passes and collected data for the upcoming carrier landings scheduled for July and August. Given the test programs past success, the X-47B is expected to complete the carrier landings with no issues. The Navy program leaders have stated that the X-47B has demonstrated solid characteristics and have said it’s seldom necessary to repeat test points because testers found that the aircraft would behave exactly as predicted.

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. Time will tell if the Navy can keep the program on track to have an operational carrier-based UAV in 2020. Many milestones and developmental efforts will undoubtedly challenge the program but if the first unmanned carrier vehicle demonstration is any indication, the program is primed for success.

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