This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) conducted flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The event, the most recent in a series of carrier-based tests, demonstrated the integration of the latest in naval aviation technology with the most advanced and capable carrier.

Northrop Grumman X-47B. Illustration photo (source: Wikimedia Commons)
Northrop Grumman X-47B. Illustration photo (source: Wikimedia Commons)

These latest tests demonstrated the X-47B’s ability to integrate with the carrier environment. The aircraft performed precise touch and go maneuvers on the ship to generate data that characterizes the environment in close proximity of the carrier flight deck. In addition, the aircraft took part in flight deck handling drills, completed arrested landings and catapult launches. Mission operators monitored the aircraft’s autonomous flight from a portable command and control unit from Theodore Roosevelt’s flight deck during each of its 45-minute flights.

A major objective for the UCAS-D program is to demonstrate a digitized carrier controlled environment to allow for robust communications between the aircraft and all carrier personnel involved with launching, recovering and controlling the aircraft. A digitized carrier environment will ultimately increase flexibility and improve safety.

AUS&R 650x90b

IHLS – Israel Homeland Security

These program successes represent significant advancements in naval aviation technology and provide a glimpse into the future integration of manned and unmanned aircraft aboard the carrier fleet.

Carrier-based tests of the X-47B began in December 2012 with flight deck operations aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Carrier testing resumed in May 2013 aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), where the X-47B completed its first carrier-based catapult launch, followed by its first carrier-based arrested landing in July.