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26 mai 2013 7 26 /05 /mai /2013 11:20
X-47B Touch And Go

5/17/2013 Strategy Page

 

ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 17, 2013) An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator prepares to execute a touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). This is the first time any unmanned aircraft has completed a touch and go landing at sea. George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter

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16 mai 2013 4 16 /05 /mai /2013 11:20
First X-47B Catapult Launch From An Aircraft Carrier

5/14/2013 Strategy Page

ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 14, 2013) An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis

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16 mai 2013 4 16 /05 /mai /2013 11:20
NGC, US Navy Catapult X-47B From Carrier Into History Books

May 15, 2013 ASDNews Source : Northrop Grumman Corporation

 

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy today launched a new chapter in the history of unmanned systems – carrier-capable unmanned aircraft – by successfully catapulting the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush(CVN-77).

 

The launch occurred at 11:18 a.m. Eastern time while the carrier was under way off the coast of Virginia. The tailless, strike-fighter-sized aircraft flew autonomously back to Naval Air Station Patuxent River where it landed safely 65 minutes later.

"Today's catapult launch of the X-47B is a momentous feat for naval aviation," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command. "It proves that the Navy's goal of operating unmanned systems safely and effectively from aircraft carriers is well on its way to becoming a reality."

 

Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The company designed, produced and is currently flight testing two X-47B air vehicles for the program. Air Vehicle 2 completed the catapult shot.

 

"Catapulting the unmanned X-47B off the USS George H.W. Bush is an event as historic as the Navy's first catapult of a manned aircraft, which occurred in Nov. 1915 from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (ACR-12)," said Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman. "We are delighted to help launch this new era of naval capability."

 

The X-47B catapult launch occurred just one day after the USS George H.W. Bush had departed from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.

 

The current at-sea period is the second such test period for the UCAS-D program. In December 2012, the program hoisted an X-47B aircraft aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), then demonstrated that the aircraft could be maneuvered safely and precisely on the ship's flight deck, in its elevators and in its hangar bay.

 

In preparation for the launch, the UCAS-D program successfully completed a series of shore-based catapult shots at Naval Air Station Patuxent River between November and March. The air vehicle was transported by barge from Patuxent River to Naval Air Station Norfolk in early May, then hoisted aboard the ship.

 

Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt & Whitney, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, GE Aviation, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Lockheed Martin, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins. The latest news and information about the UCAS-D program can be found atwww.northropgrumman.com/X-47B.

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14 mai 2013 2 14 /05 /mai /2013 16:20
US Navy Slingshot Launch for Stealth Drone

14/05/2013 by Victoria Knowles - Armed Forces International Reporter

 

The US Navy plans to launch a carrier drone for the first time, making aviation history.

 

On Tuesday, the Navy will catapult an unmanned plane from an aircraft carrier, testing a stealthy, long-range, bat-winged jet that signifies a leap forward in drone technology.

 

With a flying capability of over 2,000 nautical miles in one journey and a six-hour endurance, the X-47B is scheduled to depart in the Atlantic from the USS George H. W. Bush utilizing the same sling-shot method that shoots manned jets upward from aircraft carriers' short runways.

 

X-47B Drone Launch from US Aircraft Carriers

 

Developed by defense technology firm Northrop Grumman, the jet was first flown in 2011, and boasts a 62-foot wingspan. The X-47 project is now part of the US Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program, and as of January 2012, the project's cost inflated to $813 million.

 

Due to its stealth potential and bettering the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's range nearly two-fold, the X-47B and its descendants are regarded as a potential solution to the posing threat by Iran and China's developed anti-ship medium-range missiles, among other potential rival, according to defense analysts.

 

These missiles and other reputed area denial, anti-access weapons would oblige US aircraft carriers to function distant enough from land that F/A-18 and F-35 jets would be forced to undertake refueling to execute their missions, leaving them susceptible to attack.

 

Dual-Purpose Attack and Defence Capabilities

 

But an unmanned drone such as the X-47B could provide the Navy both with a reconnaissance competency and a long-range attack.

 

"That makes it strategically very important," says senior defense analyst Anthony Cordesman, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He regarded the jet as "essentially a really long-range stealth system."

 

Subsequent variants of the aircraft could potentially be developed for full-spectrum broadband stealth, making it difficult for the radar to position it, said the analysts.

 

US drones currently in operation in areas like Afghanistan and tribal regions of Pakistan, like the Reaper and Predator - are not stealthy planes and are not subject to air defense.

 

Due to its long range and requisite to have take off and landing capability from an aircraft carrier, day and night, the X-47B can operate with much greater autonomy than existing remotely piloted jets.

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9 mai 2013 4 09 /05 /mai /2013 07:20
X-47B Completes Key Milestone As It Prepares for Carrier Tests At Sea

May 8th, 2013 By US Navy - defencetalk.com

 

The Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completed its first-ever arrested landing here May 4, another key step to mature the system for its historic carrier-based tests later this month.

 

“Landing an unmanned aircraft on an aircraft carrier will be the greatest singular accomplishment for the UCAS demonstration and will serve as the culmination of over a decade of Navy unmanned carrier integration work”, said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager. “Shore based arrested landing testing here at NAS Patuxent River is our final check that the X-47B can meet that objective.”

 

During Saturday’s test, the X-47B used a tailhook on the aircraft to catch a carrier representative cable, known as the MK-7 arresting gear, to quickly stop the aircraft. This is known as an arrested landing, the type of recovery required aboard aircraft carriers. The MK-7 arresting gear is an underground installation of actual carrier equipment that accommodates structural tests and aircraft/arresting gear compatibility studies with all models of U.S. Navy carrier aircraft.

 

“Shore-based testing allows our combined Navy/Northrop Grumman team to control test conditions before taking the aircraft to the ship,” said Matt Funk, Navy UCAS test team lead. “We are gradually building up to the maximum load conditions we expect to see during an arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier.”

 

This month the aircraft will undergo sea-based carrier testing, catapulting from the carrier deck and potentially completing landings aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

 

“The entire system has performed very well across a large set of shore-based testing events including aircraft performance, flying qualities, navigation performance, catapult launches, and precision landings designed to stress system operation,” Engdahl said. “Our final carrier-landing software simulation shows excellent performance, flight test results are very good, and we are confident the X-47B will perform well on the ship.”

 

The X-47B is a tailless, autonomous aircraft designed with unique features for an unmanned aircraft, such as carrier suitable landing gear and structure. While the X-47B itself will not be used for operational use, the UCAS-D program is developing a concept of operations and demonstrating technologies for use in follow-on unmanned carrier based aircraft programs.

 

“This actual demonstration of the X-47B unmanned carrier operations is a first, essential step toward developing a carrier-based unmanned system for the U.S. Navy,” said Rear Adm. Mat Winter, who leads the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. “A carrier-based unmanned aircraft will increase carrier strike group relevance, provide opportunities for training and readiness cost avoidance and enable our future forward deployed carrier air wings to provide continuous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.”

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7 mai 2013 2 07 /05 /mai /2013 17:20
P&W's F100U Engine Powers 1st Arrested Landing of X-47B Unmanned Demonstrator

May 7, 2013 ASDNews Source : Pratt & Whitney

 

Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have conducted the first fly-in arrested landing of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator.

 

Conducted May 4 at the Navy's shore-based catapult and arresting gear complex, the test represents the first arrested landing by an unmanned aircraft. It marks the beginning of the final phase of testing prior to carrier-based trials planned for later this month.

 

Pratt & Whitney's F100-PW-220U engine and exhaust system successfully powered the X-47B during the shore-base test.

 

"Our team worked closely with the Navy and Northrop Grumman to get ready for this important test and Pratt & Whitney's propulsion system performed well, allowing the aircraft to launch and complete planned activity during the fly-in arrested landing," said Jimmy Reed, director of Advanced Engine Programs for Pratt & Whitney. "We look forward to making history when our engine powers the aircraft during the first unmanned carrier trials later this month."

 

The arrested landing test culminates more than three months of shore-based carrier suitability testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The testing included precision approaches, touch-and-go landings, and precision landings by the X-47B air vehicle.

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16 mai 2011 1 16 /05 /mai /2011 21:30

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/USS_George_Washington_(CVN-73)_F.jpg 

 

May 16, 2011 (AP)

 

YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — The U.S. is developing aircraft carrier-based drones that could provide a crucial edge as it tries to counter China's military rise.

 

American officials have been tightlipped about where the unmanned armed planes might be used, but a top Navy officer has told The Associated Press that some would likely be deployed in Asia.

 

"They will play an integral role in our future operations in this region," predicted Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, which covers most of the Pacific and Indian oceans.

 

Land-based drones are in wide use in the war in Afghanistan, but sea-based versions will take several more years to develop. Northrop Grumman conducted a first-ever test flight — still on land — earlier this year.

 

Van Buskirk didn't mention China specifically, but military analysts agree the drones could offset some of China's recent advances, notably its work on a "carrier-killer" missile.

 

"Chinese military modernization is the major long-term threat that the U.S. must prepare for in the Asia-Pacific region, and robotic vehicles — aerial and subsurface — are increasingly critical to countering that potential threat," said Patrick Cronin, a senior analyst with the Washington-based Center for New American Security.

 

China is decades away from building a military as strong as America's, but it is developing air, naval and missile capabilities that could challenge U.S. supremacy in the Pacific — and with it, America's ability to protect important shipping lanes and allies such as Japan and South Korea.

 

China maintains it does not have offensive intentions and is only protecting its own interests: The shipping lanes are also vital to China's export-dependent economy. There are potential flash points, though, notably Taiwan and clusters of tiny islands that both China and other Asian nations claim as their territory.

 

The U.S. Navy's pursuit of drones is a recognition of the need for new weapons and strategies to deal not only with China but a changing military landscape generally.

 

"Carrier-based unmanned aircraft systems have tremendous potential, especially in increasing the range and persistence of our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, as well as our ability to strike targets quickly," Van Buskirk said at the 7th Fleet's headquarters in Yokosuka, Japan.

 

His fleet boasts one carrier — the USS George Washington — along with about 60 other ships and 40,000 sailors and Marines.

 

Experts say the drones could be used on any of the 11 U.S. carriers worldwide and are not being developed exclusively as a counterbalance to China.

 

But China's reported progress in missile development appears to make the need for them more urgent.

 

The DF 21D "carrier killer" missile is designed for launch from land with enough accuracy to hit a moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 900 miles (1,500 kilometers). Though still unproven — and some analysts say overrated — no other country has such a weapon.

 

Current Navy fighter jets can only operate about 500 nautical miles (900 kilometers) from a target, leaving a carrier within range of the Chinese missile.

 

Drones would have an unrefueled combat radius of 1,500 nautical miles (2,780 kilometers) and could remain airborne for 50 to 100 hours — versus the 10 hour maximum for a pilot, according to a 2008 paper by analysts Tom Ehrhard and Robert Work at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Work is now an undersecretary of the Navy.

 

"Introducing a new aircraft that promises to let the strike group do its work from beyond the maximum effective firing range of the anti-ship ballistic missile — or beyond its range entirely — represents a considerable boost in defensive potential for the carrier strike group," said James Holmes of the U.S. Naval War College.

 

Northrop Grumman has a six-year, $635.8 million contract to develop two of the planes, with more acquisitions expected if they work. A prototype of its X-47B took a maiden 29-minute flight in February at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Initial testing on carriers is planned for 2013.

 

Other makers including Boeing and Lockheed are also in the game. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. — the maker of the Predator drones used in the Afghan war — carried out wind tunnel tests in February. Spokeswoman Kimberly Kasitz said it was too early to divulge further details.

 

Some experts warn carrier-based drones are still untested and stress that Chinese advances have not rendered carriers obsolete.

 

"Drones, if they work, are just the next tech leap. As long as there is a need for tactical aviation launched from the sea, carriers will be useful weapons of war," said Michael McDevitt, a former commandant of the National War College in Washington, D.C., and a retired rear admiral whose commands included an aircraft carrier battle group.

 

Some analysts also note that China may be reluctant to instigate any fighting that could interfere with its trade.

 

Nan Li, an expert at the U.S. Naval War College's China Maritime Studies Institute, doubts China would try to attack a U.S. carrier.

 

"I am a skeptic of such an interpretation of Chinese strategy," he said. "But I do think the X-47B may still be a useful preventive capability for worst-case scenarios."

 

The Air Force and Navy both sponsored a project to develop carrier-based drones in the early 2000s, but the Air Force pulled out in 2005, leaving the Navy to fund the research.

 

Adm. Gary Roughhead, chief of naval operations, said last summer that the current goal of getting a handful of unmanned bombers in action by 2018 is "too damn slow."

 

"Seriously, we've got to have a sense of urgency about getting this stuff out there," he told a conference. "It could fundamentally change how we think of naval aviation."

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