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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

U.S. Navy Completes First Arrested Unmanned Aircraft Landing

By Woodrow Bellamy III

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

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