Northrop Grumman X-47B makes first Pax River flight

The Northrop Grumman X-47B made its first flight out of the US Navy‘s flight test center at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, yesterday.

x47bpax.jpgHere is a Naval Air Systems Command video of the event.

My colleagues Flight reporter Zach Rosenberg and Stephen Trimble–the original creator of this blog– are at the base today for its media day. The Navy is showing off its various unmanned aircraft and conducting various briefings on various programs. I was supposed to be there, but instead I’ll be at the Pentagon for the US Air Force‘s F-22 briefing.

The success of the X-47B, which was developed as part of the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System-Demonstrator (UCLAS-D) program, is critical to the success of the follow-on Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft. The UCLASS will harvest much of the technology developed as part of the UCAS-D, the Navy’s UCLASS program manager Charlie Nava told me earlier in the year. Every potential contractor will have access to the technology, he said.

UCASx47.jpgNext year, the Navy will conduct carrier take-offs and landings onboard the USS Harry S. Truman… What makes that possible is a new ship-relative GPS that generates extremely precise positional data. That technology will also be used for when X-47B conducts aerial refueling demonstrations with both the USAF boom system and the Navy’s probe-and-drogue system.


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