The U.S. Navy said it completed the first successful arrested landing with an unmanned aircraft using Northrop Grumman's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator. The landing was conducted May 4 at Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Md.
Arrested landing procedures feature the incoming aircraft extending its landing hook to catch a heavy cable extended from the landing area. The cable then brings the aircraft a rapid controlled stop.
With the X-47B, Northrop Grumman used a navigation approach to simulate the technique that the Navy will use to land unmanned aircraft on an aircraft carrier at sea.
"This precision, shore-based trap by the X-47B puts the UCAS Carrier Demonstration [UCAS-D] program on final approach for a rendezvous with naval aviation history," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy's UCAS program manager. "It moves us a critical step closer to proving that unmanned systems can be integrated seamlessly into Navy carrier operations."
Later this month, the X-47B is scheduled to undergo sea-based aircraft carrier trials. According to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the X-47B will not be used for "operational use," but rather to develop a concept of operations for use in future unmanned carrier based aircraft programs.
Related: Unmanned Systems News