Pilotless Aircraft Performs US Carrier 'Touch & Go' Landings

Monday, November 11, 2013
X-47B Aircraft on deck: Photo credit USN

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) has conducted flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft performed precise touch and go maneuvers on the ship and In addition took part in flight deck handling drills, completed arrested landings and catapult launches.

Mission operators monitored the aircraft's autonomous flight from a portable command and control unit from Theodore Roosevelt's flight deck during each of its 45-minute flights. 

"It is a tremendous opportunity for the 'Big Stick' to be a part of the development and testing of the future of Naval Aviation," said Capt. Daniel Grieco, Theodore Roosevelt's commanding officer. The UCAS is an impressive system that gives us all a glimpse into the support and strike capabilities we can expect to join the fleet in the years to come. The tactical and support possibilities for such platforms are endless, and I know the crew of TR are proud to be able to be a part of that development." 

Carrier-based tests of the X-47B began in December 2012 with flight deck operations aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Carrier testing resumed in May 2013 aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), where the X-47B completed its first carrier-based catapult launch, followed by its first carrier-based arrested landing in July 2013.

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