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 February 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

INTERSCHALT Expands Africa, Asia Service Networks

INTERSCHALT maritime systems AG, the provider of maritime software, services and supplier of Voyage Data Recorders (VDR 4G[e] and s-VDR) has expanded its network

Access to Brazil's Itajai Port to Open as Truck Protest Ends

Protesters have agreed to open access to Brazil's main poultry exporting port of Itajai in Santa Catarina state, the port said on Wednesday, ending a lingering

E-marine Begins Fleet Expansion

E-marine, a provider of submarine cable installation and repair solutions in the Middle East and Sub-Continent region, has unveiled plans to expand its fleet of cable ships in 2015,

Technology

Sunken Japanese WWII Battleship Found

Seventy years after the conclusion of World War II, philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul G. Allen has located the Musashi, one of the two largest and most technologically

ThyssenKrupp Says Submarines Part of Growth Story

Germany's Thyssenkrupp sees its submarine business as making an important contribution to its growth targets, the head of its Industrial Solutions business area said on Tuesday.

Added Value Innovation Drives Control of BWTS

Specifying for ballast water treatment systems can be a difficult process. Ian Hamilton, sales manager for marine electrical wiring control and instrumentation specialists CMR Group, offers guidance.

Navy

Ten Migrants Die in Mediterranean, a Thousand Rescued

At least 10 North African migrants died when their rubber boat overturned in the southern Mediterranean while almost a thousand more from a total of seven vessels

Sunken Japanese WWII Battleship Found

Seventy years after the conclusion of World War II, philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul G. Allen has located the Musashi, one of the two largest and most technologically

US, Australian, Indonesian Navies Commemorate Battle of Sunda Strait

Senior officials from the United States, Australia and Indonesia paid their respects to the crews of USS Houston (CA 30) and HMAS Perth (D 29) during a wreath laying ceremony March 1,

Eye on the Navy

Ten Migrants Die in Mediterranean, a Thousand Rescued

At least 10 North African migrants died when their rubber boat overturned in the southern Mediterranean while almost a thousand more from a total of seven vessels

Sunken Japanese WWII Battleship Found

Seventy years after the conclusion of World War II, philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul G. Allen has located the Musashi, one of the two largest and most technologically

Cosco Boxship Detained Over Illegal Arms

Colombian authorities detained a vessel operated by China's largest shipping group for illegally transporting thousands of cannon shells, about 100 tonnes of gunpowder

People in the News

Seadrill: Rig Rates Have Not Bottomed

The market for oil and gas drilling rigs continues to deteriorate as oil companies cut back on investments, Seadrill Chief Financial Officer Rune Magnus Lundetrae

Kvichak, Vigor Announce Merger

Merger positions combined company to play a dominant role in recapitalization of North Pacific fishing fleet and emerging Arctic oil gas operations. Kvichak

'Governments Must Act to Save Thousands of Migrants'

The humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea is spiralling out of control. EU Member States must act urgently to prevent the loss of thousands more lives,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Winch
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: 0.1660 sec (6 req/sec)