PATUXENT RIVER, Md., May 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator is progressing toward aircraft testing later this month.
The Navy reports that the tailless, autonomous aircraft by Northrop Grumman completed its first arrested landing Saturday at a Naval Air Station in Maryland.
"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."
This month the aircraft will undergo sea-based carrier testing, catapulting from the carrier deck and potentially completing landings aboard the USS George H.W. Bush.
The Navy doesn't plan on the X-47B being an operational aircraft. The demonstrator is for developing and demonstrating technologies and concept of operations for unmanned aerial vehicles for use aboard carriers.
"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 enable our future forward-deployed carrier air wings to provide continuous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability."