The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman completed a test of the ship-based software and systems to allow the X-47B unmanned air vehicle to operate from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
The demonstration, which took place in the western Atlantic on the Navy carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower, included several successful launches and recoveries of a manned surrogate aircraft equipped with X-47B precision navigation control software, according to Northrop Grumman.
"This manned surrogate test event is a significant and critical step toward landing the X-47B on the carrier deck in 2013," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, U.S. Navy, program manager, Navy Unmanned Combat Air System. "It represents the first end-to-end test of the hardware and software systems that will eventually allow unmanned systems to integrate safely and successfully with all aspects of carrier operations."
Northrop Grumman is the Navy's principal contractor for the Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program. A Navy/Northrop Grumman test team conducted the first flight of the X-47B in February.
The companies partnered in 2007 to develop and test two strike-fighter-sized X-47B unmanned aircraft. Results from the surrogate testing will be used to continue to refine the mission management, navigation, guidance and control software that the X-47B will use to perform its first carrier landings in 2013. Autonomous aerial refueling demonstrations are planned for 2014.