Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Conduct First Catapult Launch of X-47B Unmanned
PATUXENT RIVER, Md., Nov. 29, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman
Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy have conducted the Navy's first
catapult launch of an unmanned system using the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air
System (UCAS) demonstrator.
UCAS Cat Launch (a)
In preparation for the first catapult
launch of the U.S. Navy's X-47B
unmanned aircraft, a flight deck
director - aka "yellow shirt"
- and a deck operator using Northrop
Grumman's wireless, handheld
Control Display Unit guide the aircraft
into position on a shore-based catapult
at Naval Air Station Patuxent River,
UCAS Cat Launch (b)
In preparation for the
first catapult launch of
the U.S. Navy's X-47B
unmanned aircraft, a
flight deck director - aka
"yellow shirt" -
and a deck operator using
wireless, handheld Control
Display Unit guide the
aircraft into position on
a shore-based catapult at
Naval Air Station Patuxent
Photos accompanying this release are available at
The test was conducted today at a shore-based catapult facility at Naval Air
Station Patuxent River, Md. It marks the first of several shore-based
catapult-to-flight tests that will be performed before the Navy's UCAS Carrier
Demonstration (UCAS-D) program catapult launches the X-47B from a ship.
Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the UCAS-D program.
"Today's successful launch is another critical milestone in the
carrier-suitability testing phase of the UCAS-D program," said Mike Mackey,
Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D program director. "It also provides another
confidence-building step toward our rendezvous with history next year."
Following the catapult launch, the X-47B conducted a test flight over
Chesapeake Bay near Patuxent River. The flight included several maneuvers
designed to simulate tasks that the aircraft will have to perform when it
lands on a ship, including flying in a typical ship holding pattern, and
executing a carrier approach flight profile. The flight also allowed the test
team to gather precision navigation data associated with each of those
According to Daryl Martis, Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D flight test director, the
catapult event was significant for another reason: "Today's launch provided
our team with another opportunity to demonstrate the precision operation of
the Northrop Grumman-developed Control Display Unit [CDU], one of the key
enablers of future flight deck operations for the X-47B," he said.
The CDU is a wireless, arm-mounted controller that will allow a flight deck
operator to control and maneuver the X-47B on the flight deck, including
moving it into the catapult, disengaging it from the carrier's arresting wires
and moving it quickly out of the landing area.
Over the next few weeks, the UCAS-D program expects to conduct several
shore-based catapults at Patuxent River. On Nov. 26, an X-47B was hoisted
aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va. to
begin a series of deck handling trials. The trials, expected to run through
mid December, will be used to evaluate the performance of the CDU in an actual
In 2013, the program plans to demonstrate the ability of an X-47B to operate
from a Navy aircraft carrier, including launch, recovery and air traffic
control operations. The program will also mature technologies required for
potential future Navy unmanned air system programs. For the latest X-47B news
and information, please visit www.as.northropgrumman.com/products/nucasx47b/.
Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed
Martin, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, General Electric, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell,
Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative
systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cybersecurity, C4ISR, and
logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.
Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.
CONTACT: Brooks McKinney, APR
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