Military Embedded Systems

Navy, Northrop Grumman demonstrate integrated manned & unmanned flight operations at sea


August 18, 2014

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

ATLANTIC OCEAN. Northrop Grumman engineers and the U.S. Navy personnel conducted a demonstration of manned, unmanned aircraft teaming during a a series of cooperative flights from the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), using an X-47B Unmanned Air System (UCAS) and an F/A-18 Hornet.

This demonstration marked the first time manned and unmanned carrier aircraft have operated together in the same carrier controlled landing pattern at the same time. It took place in the Eastern Atlantic and collected data that will help reduce risks associated with integrating unmanned aircraft with conventional manned carrier operations.

During the flights, the X-47B flew in the landing pattern with the F/18-Hornet at approach speeds of as fast as 120 miles per hour, at a pattern altitude of as high as 1,200 feet. Mission operators aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt had full control of the X-47B during flight maneuvers that involved multiple planned precision approaches to the carrier.

At the completion of the manned/unmanned flight trials, the X-47B landed safely aboard CVN 71, catching and quickly releasing the arresting cable before folding its wings and taxiing clear of the landing area.

Northrop Grumman, the Navy's UCAS prime contractor, designed and produced the program's two X-47B air vehicles. The Northrop Grumman UCAS industry team includes Pratt & Whitney, GKN Aerospace, UTC Aerospace Systems, Eaton, General Electric, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Rockwell Collins, Parker Aerospace, Sargent Aerospace & Defense, , and Lockheed Martin.


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Northrop Grumman

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