Navy prepares for X-47B flight testing

May 17, 2012 at 11:04 AM
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PATUXENT RIVER, Md., May 17 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman's unmanned combat aircraft for use from aircraft carriers will undergo testing soon by the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command said two X-47B demonstrators will be put through flight paces this summer at Patuxent River, Md., from where they will perform arrested landings and catapult launches to validate ability to conduct precision approaches to a carrier.

"Testing at Pax River is a critical component of this demonstration program as we break new ground with the development of a carrier-based unmanned air system," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager.

"The integrated test team, under leadership of AIR-5.0 (Test and Evaluation) and VX-23 (Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23), are critical members of the Navy UCAS program team that will make this program a success."

The unmanned combat aircraft system program began as a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The aircraft is 38.2 feet long, has a range of more than 2,000 miles and a service ceiling of 40,000 feet. It can carry 4,500 pounds of ordnance.

The first X-47B arrived at Patuxent River late last year and has been performing taxiing tests while being readied for flight testing. It is also about to start electronic vulnerability testing.

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