Unmanned Navy Carrier Aircraft Program: Progress Update

By George Backwell
Friday, May 16, 2014
X-47B flies near CVN 77: Photo credit USN

One year ago, Sailors watched an unmanned air vehicle take-off from a nuclear-powered carrier flight deck for the first time in naval aviation history, says Capt. Beau Duarte
, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager:

"May 14, 2013 was an extraordinary day for the Navy.  The crew from USS George H.W. Bush launched the X-47B that morning off the coast of Virginia. The tailless, autonomous unmanned aircraft took to the skies, while the flight crew on deck celebrated this historic achievement.

Our Naval Air Forces Commander Vice Adm. David Buss called it “a watershed event” as he watched from the flight deck. He compared this event to aviation pioneer Eugene Ely’s first-ever landing on the deck of a ship in 1911.

In July, the UCAS-D team went back to the ship and took testing one step further. This time, not only did we launch an unmanned air vehicle, but we successfully landed the X-47B on the ship. This was an event many of us couldn’t have imagined that we would have the opportunity to witness during our naval career.

After joining the program in October and having the privilege of leading a team of highly-motivated, dedicated and talented individuals, I had the opportunity to embark aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) the following month.  There was a tremendous amount of interest on the ship and the entire crew was excited to be part of the testing.

I felt that same excitement. In 2009, I served as the commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River and was involved in some of the early test coordination with the X-47B.  At the time, operating the UAS from an aircraft carrier was still just a concept. There was still a lot of work ahead of the team.

But just five years later, here I was on the flight deck watching not one, but two X-47B aircraft operating in more complex conditions than ever before.  It was our most successful detachment to date. We completed five catapults and five arrested landings in winds of higher magnitude and differing directions.

We closed out 2013 with a total of eight catapult launches, 30 touch-and-goes and seven arrested landings while aboard CVN77 and CVN71.

When we go back to the ship in August, we will accomplish a new set of firsts for the X-47B. We’ll test the new capabilities of the X-47B wing-fold and tailhook retract system, and will demonstrate compatibility with a carrier jet-blast deflector on the flight deck for the first time. We will also focus on perfecting flight deck operations and integrating the unmanned system with manned aircraft.

Over the next year, we will continue X-47B flight operations to mature technologies for the future Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system and refine the concept of operations to demonstrate the integration of unmanned carrier-based aircraft within the carrier environment."
 

Maritime Reporter November 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

Port of Houston Expecting Record Year

The Port of Houston Authority is expecting 2014 to close as a banner year for the port, with 34 million tons of cargo handled through November, Executive Director

Hapag-Lloyd Completes CSAV Merger Capital Increase

Hapag-Lloyd completed the planned capital increase of EUR 370 million (approximately $452.5 million) as part of the business combination with the Chilean shipping

Technology

Liquefaction Terminals to Dominate LNG Capital Expenditure

Capital expenditure (Capex) on global LNG facilities is expected to total $259 billion (bn) over the period 2015-2019, with investments expected to be 88% larger

Ennsub Delivers ROV Deployment Systems

Ennsub has completed the design and manufacture of two workclass remotely operated vehicle (WROV) deployment systems for ROVOP, due to be installed into a newbuild

Wärtsilä to Proceed with first LNG Terminal

Wärtsilä has been given full notice to proceed (NTP) from Manga LNG Oy for the supply of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Tornio, Northern Finland.

Navy

Damen Outfitting First of Nine Bahamas Patrol Boats

The first of nine Damen Stan Patrol 3007s ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force has arrived at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem in the Netherlands for outfitting.

US Navy: Tortuga Allision Costs CO, XO Their Jobs

USS Tortuga's (LSD 46) Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Thomas Goudreau and Executive Officer, Cmdr. John Fleming, were relieved of their duties Dec. 16, due to loss of

Japan Gains Edge in Australia Submarine Deal

Australia and Japan appear to be inching closer to an agreement on the sale the top-secret technology from Japan to build a fleet of new generation submarines.

Eye on the Navy

Damen Outfitting First of Nine Bahamas Patrol Boats

The first of nine Damen Stan Patrol 3007s ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force has arrived at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem in the Netherlands for outfitting.

NRL Researchers Demo Ship-to-Shore Data Link

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) along with Mercury Continuity (MC) have demonstrated the Tactical Reachback Extended Communications (TREC) system in the port of Miami.

NASSCO Opens Bremerton Repair Facility

General Dynamics NASSCO celebrated the grand opening of its new location in Bremerton, Wash., yesterday. The facility will support the company’s recently-awarded contract to repair and maintain U.

People in the News

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

Damen Shipyards Galati wins Dutch Romanian Award

Damen Shipyards Galati has been presented with the Dutch Romanian Business Award for its Corporate Social Responsibility plan, particularly the Group’s community investment initiatives.

Lowrance Renews Insight Genesis College Cup

Lowrance®, a world-leading brand in fishing electronics since 1957— announced today the renewal of its Insight Genesis™ College Cup. In its second year, the

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2155 sec (5 req/sec)