X-47B conducts carrier touch-and-go landing operations
The US Navy has reported that the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) has commenced touch-and-go landing operations on board the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush. This represents a significant milestone for the X-47B programme, and follows the recently conducted first carrier-based launch of the aircraft on 14 May.
Ship relative navigation and precision touchdown of the X-47B are critical technology elements for all future Unmanned Carrier Aviation (UCA) aircraft. This latest milestone shows the US Navy’s commitment to developing the X-47B for future naval operations.
Don Blottenberger, UCAS-D Deputy Program manager, said: ‘This landing, rubber hitting deck, is extremely fulfilling for the team and is the culmination of years of relative navigation development. Now, we are set to demonstrate the final pieces of the demonstration.’
Capt. Jaime Engdahl, program manager for Unmanned Combat Air Systems program office, added: ‘When we operate in a very dynamic and harsh carrier environment, we need networks and communication links that have high integrity and reliability to ensure mission success and provide precise navigation and placement of an unmanned vehicle.
‘Today, we have demonstrated this with the X-47B, and we will continue to demonstrate consistent, reliable, repeatable touch-down locations on a moving carrier flight deck. This precision relative navigation technology is key to ensuring future unmanned systems can operate off our aircraft carriers.’
The programme will now move toward the demonstration of the first shore-based arrested landings of the X-47B, before the final carrier-based arrestments later in the year.
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