X-47B UCAS programme gathers pace
The US Naval Air Systems Command has revealed that the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) programme is set to reach a number of important milestones this summer, with the first flight scheduled to take place at Pax River Naval Air Station, and the second vehicle due to arrive from Edwards Air Force Base.
The X-47B is the first unmanned vehicle designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier. As part of the programme’s demonstration, the X-47B will perform arrested landings and catapult launches at Pax to validate its ability to conduct precision approaches to the carrier. The base is one of only a few sites in the world where the Navy can run performance tests on aircraft-carrier catapult operations at a land-based facility with flight test and engineering support resources not available on a ship.
The X-47B aircraft has already performed taxi testing at Pax River to validate the overall reliability of the system; as well as undertaking tests to determine the aircraft's ability to catch an arresting wire on an aircraft carrier.
Like manned aircraft, the air vehicle is scheduled to begin six weeks of electronic vulnerability testing at the Naval Electromagnetic Radio Facility (NERF). This test verifies there are no electrical disturbance, signal, or emission issues that cause an undesired response or malfunction of a subsystem or component.
After completing standard ground tests and system check-outs, the programme anticipates several major milestones, beginning with first flight.
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