Thursday, March 17, 2011
UCAS-D Starts Flight Envelope Expansion
The flights at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., mark the beginning of the flight envelope expansion process, which will test the aircraft over a broad range of altitudes, airspeeds and operating weights.
During the X-47B's 39-minute second flight on March 1, the aircraft flew to an altitude of 7,500 feet at speeds up to 200 knots. During its 41-minute third flight on March 4, the aircraft reached an altitude of 7,500 feet and a top speed of 180 knots.
The tailless, “low-observable-relevant” demonstrator first flew on Feb. 4, reaching 5,000 feet at a top speed of 180 knots.
Northrop Grumman and the Navy expect to complete the planned 49-flight envelope expansion program at Edwards AFB before moving the first X-47B to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., later this year.
The Navy awarded the UCAS-D prime contract to Northrop Grumman in August 2007. The six-year contract calls for the development of two X-47B fighter-sized aircraft. Carrier trials of the aircraft are planned in 2013.