Northrop Grumman’s X-47B UCAS-D – Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration – aircraft made its first flight on February 4, taking off at 2.09pm local time for a 29 minute flight.
In a flight designed to gather test data to verify and validate system software for guidance and navigation, and the aerodynamic control of the tailless design, the X-47B reached an altitude of 5000ft and flew several recetrack patterns before landing at 2.38pm.
“First flight represents the compilation of numerous tests to validate the airworthiness of the aircraft, and the robustness and reliability of the software that allows it to operate as an autonomous system and eventually have the ability to take-off and land aboard an aircraft carrier,” said Capt Jaime Engdahl, the US Navy’s UCAS-D program manager.
Northrop Grumman is building two X-47Bs under the UCAS-D program to “demonstrate the first-ever carrier launches and recoveries by an autonomous, unmanned aircraft with a low-observable-relevant planform”. Testing will include aerial refuelling, carrier integration and at-sea trials.