Northrop Grumman’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator has been successfully catapulted from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H W Bush. Following the May 14 launch off the coast of Virginia, the aircraft flew autonomously to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
“Today’s catapult launch of the X-47B is a momentous feat for naval aviation,” said Captain Jaime Engdahl, the US Navy’s UCAS program manager. “It proves that the Navy’s goal of operating unmanned systems safely and effectively from aircraft carriers is well on its way to becoming a reality.”
Said said Carl Johnson, vice president and Navy UCAS program manager for Northrop Grumman:”Catapulting the unmanned X-47B off the USS George H W Bush is an event as historic as the Navy’s first catapult of a manned aircraft, which occurred in November 1915 from the armoured cruiser USS North Carolina.”
The carrier launch followed validation trials in December 2012 ofan X-47B aboard the USS Harry S Truman which demonstrated that it could be maneuvered safely and accurately on the ship’s flightdeck, in its elevators and in its hangar bay.