F-35 newest competitor on the same flight deck!

Sub-scale and Full-Scale Aerial Targets and RPAs - Remotely-Piloted Aircraft
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popcorn

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Unread post14 Apr 2011, 01:25

SpudmanWP wrote:Remember that the X-47B has a big X in front. It is not meant to be operational and would go through a further developmental cycle before it would become operational (ala YF-22 to F-22, X-35 to F-35, etc)


Yes, the X-47B is a technology demonstrator isn't it? I'd expect the USN to implement substantial modifications in any future derivative of the design. IMO they will probably want something with a bit more range.
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Unread post14 Apr 2011, 01:37

popcorn wrote:
SpudmanWP wrote:Remember that the X-47B has a big X in front. It is not meant to be operational and would go through a further developmental cycle before it would become operational (ala YF-22 to F-22, X-35 to F-35, etc)


Yes, the X-47B is a technology demonstrator isn't it? I'd expect the USN to implement substantial modifications in any future derivative of the design. IMO they will probably want something with a bit more range.


Do you in fact know what the X-47B's range is?
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Unread post14 Apr 2011, 01:38

Popcorn, the wingspan is already getting pretty massive? Can it truly be extended that much more, unless they are pulling most of the other aircraft from the deck (as they apparently did when making U-2 landings)? The range should be sufficient, especially when coupled with long-range stand-off ordnance e.g., JASSM-ER class munition. That is where an 'operational' spec should be centered on with regards to the N-UCAS... with the internal capacity for JASSM-ER sized ordnance. imho.
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Unread post14 Apr 2011, 01:43

[quote="FlightDreamz"][quote...My understanding is that Boeing's U.C.A.V. .. but might pop up in USAF colors down the road. ...quote]

X-45 in flight.. http://www.boeing.com/Features/2010/12/ ... 10_10.html

Boeing plans to launch a 10-flight test series with the Phantom Ray, a company-funded derivative of the X-45 developed by the US Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/20 ... -over.html
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Unread post14 Apr 2011, 01:56

sferrin wrote:[..Do you in fact know what the X-47B's range is?


Maximum speed: "high subsonic"
Cruise speed: 0.45 mach
Range: 2,100+ NM (3,889+ km)
Service ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,190 m)

We have a multi-blocked flight test programme established, developed back in 2007,” he says. “We haven’t deviated from it; we’ve added one more block, called Block 6, for the air-to-air refuelling.”

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/20 ... cas-d.html
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Unread post14 Apr 2011, 02:11

geogen, any USN carrier aircraft will be designed to fit normal operations with other ordinary USN carrier aircraft. This will always be the case. Non-Naval Designed aircraft have to take their luck onboard as they find it. Not many make the cut :cheers: - as we know. :roll:
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Unread post14 Apr 2011, 12:06

The specifications for the future UCAS is far from fixed at this point. The primary role for the UCAS seems to be ISR with the debate being on the right balance between survivability and endurance. The final UCAS configuration could have significant differences from the X-47B.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/ ... ull&next=0
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Unread post14 Apr 2011, 18:47

popcorn wrote:..primary role for the UCAS seems to be ISR ..


Not to disagree; the weapons bay can carry -9x, -120C, and various JDAMs,etc....and it could carry ISR systems, as well. Mission configurable, no doubt. Adding an AESA for radar and communications; could allow the other flight a/c to remain in their passive mode (making them even more undetectable). :)
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Unread post06 Jul 2011, 04:08

Navy UCAS Achieves Milestone Aboard Eisenhower Patuxent River, MD - 7/5/2011

http://www.thebaynet.com/news/index.cfm ... y_ID/23048

"The Navy is one step closer to demonstrating the first carrier-based recoveries and launches of an autonomous, low-observable relevant unmanned aircraft.

Aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) July 2, a team from the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program office (PMA-268) accomplished the historical first carrier touchdown of an F/A-18D surrogate aircraft emulating an unmanned vehicle using systems developed as part of the Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program.

“What we saw here today is cutting edge technology for integrating digital control of autonomous carrier aircraft operations, and most importantly, the capability to automatically land an unmanned air system aboard an aircraft carrier,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, N-UCAS Program Manager. “Successfully landing and launching a surrogate aircraft allows us to look forward to demonstrating that a tailless, strike-fighter- sized unmanned system can operate safely in the carrier environment.”

Demonstrating the UCAS-D system with a proven carrier aircraft, the F/A-18D, significantly reduces risk of landing an unmanned system aboard the ship for the first time. The F/A-18 surrogate aircraft, provided by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, is controlled with actual avionics and software that are being incorporated on X-47B UCAS-D aircraft.

“Surrogate testing allows us to evaluate ship systems, avionics systems, and early versions of the unmanned vehicle software with a pilot in the loop for safety,” said Glenn Colby, team lead for UCAS-D Aviation/Ship Integration. “With this we can verify our interfaces and functionality while minimizing the risk to an unmanned vehicle.”

Along with the F/A-18, the test team employed a King Air surrogate aircraft operated by Air-Tec, Inc. According to Colby, the King Air gives the team a low-cost test bed to evaluate the ability of the UCAS-D avionics and ship systems to properly adhere to existing carrier operations procedures. PMA-268 is using the King Air to test all of the system functionality that does not require actually landing on the ship.

“The most important thing we have done is adapted the ship’s systems to handle a vehicle without a pilot, then seamlessly integrated it into carrier operations,” said Rob Fox, UCAS-D Aviation/Ship Integration deputy team lead. “We’re using both current aircraft carrier hardware and software systems and processes, and introducing new systems and processes to accommodate an unmanned system.”

The vast majority of today’s carrier flight operations are flown manually and visually by Naval Aviators. The pilot gives the ship information about the aircraft over the radio; all air traffic control instructions are by voice and even a good portion of navigation data has to be read over the air by the ship. The purpose of the UCAS-D integration effort is to digitize the communications and navigation information flow to incorporate capabilities required for UAS flight operations aboard a carrier, with minimal impact to existing hardware, training and procedures.

“This test period shows us very clearly that the carrier segment hardware and software, and the Precision Global Positioning System (PGPS) landing technologies are mature and ready to support actual unmanned operations with the X-47B,” said Engdahl.

To support an autonomous vehicle, PMA-268 has modified shipboard equipment so that the UCAS-D X-47B air vehicle, mission operator and ship operators are on the same digital network. For current fleet aircraft, the Landing Signal Officer (LSO), who is charged with safe recovery of aircraft aboard the ship, uses voice commands and visual signals to communicate with a pilot on final approach. Since a UAS cannot reliably respond to voice and visual signals, the LSO’s equipment communicates directly with the aircraft through the digital network via a highly reliable interface. Similar digital communication capability has been integrated with the ship’s primary flight control (“tower”) and Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) facilities. Most importantly, the UAS operator’s equipment, installed in one of the carrier’s ready rooms, is integrated with the very same network.

In addition to communications, an unmanned system requires highly precise and reliable navigation to operate around the ship. Today’s first arrested landing of the F/A-18D surrogate aircraft aboard the Eisenhower was enabled by integrating Precision Global Positioning System (PGPS) capabilities into the ship and the aircraft.

According to Engdahl, these tests demonstrate that PGPS landing technologies and the carrier segment hardware and software are mature and ready to support actual unmanned operations with the X-47B. In addition, these capabilities have the potential to make manned aircraft operations safer and more efficient.

“Our team has worked vigorously over the past five years to modify and develop systems required to operate unmanned aircraft around and aboard a carrier,” said Adam Anderson, team lead for UCAS-D Aviation/Ship Integration System Build, who has worked on the program since 2006. “This was a very complex and challenging task that required innovative, hard-working and dedicated individuals to get the job done.”

The first experiments supporting unmanned carrier operations were conducted in 2002 followed by at-sea testing of a King Air in 2005. With the basic concept proven, the UCAS-D team began the detailed design of the carrier integration in 2007. The PMA-268/NAVAIR team worked closely with experts from PEO (Carriers) and the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to determine the details of system installation on a carrier, while working to minimize impact to ongoing missions and capabilities aboard the ship. Initial capability of the ship equipment was verified in January 2010 during testing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

In fall 2010, ship modifications began on the Eisenhower. The UCAS-D team worked closely with ship’s company personnel to lessen disruption to other activities required for normal operations and maintenance of the ship. Initial surrogate testing took place during the ship’s sea trials the week of June 13, which validated the system’s readiness for carrier landings.

“This was truly a team effort with our industry partners, including Northrop Grumman, Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, SAIC, ARINC and Sierra Nevada Corporation, PEO Carriers, NAVSEA and, of course, the crew of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Engdahl added. “The exceptional support and collaboration of the entire team has set us up very well to achieve our ultimate milestone –autonomous landing of an actual unmanned, low-observable relevant aircraft on the aircraft carrier in 2013.”

The UCAS-D program continues ship integration and X-47B flight test activities in preparation for sea trials in 2013. Flight testing is underway at Edwards Air Force Base and will transition to Pax River later this year."
_______________

"As part of the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration program, a F/A-18D from the "Salty Dogs" of air test and evaluation squadron (VX) 23 makes and arrested landing aboard aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower(CVN 69), July 2. (U.S. Navy photo) http://www.thebaynet.com/images/news/fu ... 5BB0A6.jpg

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Unread post07 Jul 2011, 20:49

Navy One Step Closer To UAV Carrier Ops July 7th, 2011

http://defensetech.org/2011/07/07/navy- ... rrier-ops/

"The U.S. Navy just got a little closer to its goal of routinely flying combat drones off carriers by the close of the decade when an F/A-18 Hornet landed itself on the deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) using flight control software designed for the Northrop-Grumman-built X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator or UCAS-D.

On July 2, the F/A-18 (shown above) performed dozens of arrested landings without any input from the pilot in the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia Capes. What’s really interesting about this is that the jet wasn’t controlled by someone in the carrier the way current drones are controlled from ground stations. No, this jet simply received a command from the carrier’s air traffic control to enter the landing pattern and execute the landing all on its own; the same way a piloted jet would.

“Once he’s on his approach, we actually take control of the aircraft via the systems we have installed as part of the demo and actually the aircraft is controlled by flight [rules] we put in place, all the way down to trap,” said Don Blottenberger, Navy UCAS-D Dep. Principal Program Manager during a phone call with reporters this morning. “There is no remote control of the aircraft, there is no pilot control of the aircraft; we’ve given it instructions and it executes those instructions.”

Just to make it clear, Blottenberger added:

“There is no remote control, meaning there is no joystick, there’s no one that’s flying this aircraft from the carrier, we give it commands via the network we have in place … tying in with existing carrier systems and then the aircraft executes those commands.”

The system, which uses precision-GPS navigation data transmitted over Rockwell Collins’ Tactical Targeting Network Technology (which I thought was defunct), allows the air traffic controllers, air boss and landing signals officer to tell the plane to enter the approach and perform all the necessary adjustments in heading, altitude and speed necessary to perform a trap. In the final phase of the approach, the LSO can even order the jet to wave off using his terminal that has been modified to communicate with an unmanned jet, according to NAVAIR officials.

According to the Hornet’s pilot, Lt. Jeremy DeBons, the landing felt no different from when an F/A-18 lands using the Automated Carrier Landing System, although. Still, he kept his “hands very close” to the controls during the ‘hands-off’ landings.

The new, GPS-based system developed for the UCAS-D has 360-degree coverage around the ship; the ability to control multiple aircraft and allows the actual airplane to determine how it will fly according to the commands from air traffic control. The older radar-based auto-land system has limited coverage off the stern of the carrier, determines what type of stick and throttle inputs should be performed for the plane and can only control a limited number of aircraft, according to NAVAIR officials.

Now the Navy has proven the auto-landing system works, the two X-47Bs will be flown to NAS Patuxent River in Maryland where they’ll do everything from perform cat shots and arrested landings to practice operating on a crowded carrier deck mock up and flying in its airspace throughout next year. If all goes well, this will pave the way for an actual carrier landing by an X-47B sometime in 2013, according to NAVAIR."
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Unread post08 Jul 2011, 22:55

F/A-18 Shows UCAS-D Can Land On Carrier | Jul 8, 2011 By Graham Warwick

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/ ... ine=F/A-18 Shows UCAS-D Can Land On Carrier

“Surrogate flight tests of the software and systems for the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat aircraft system demonstrator (UCAS-D) have resulted in “hands-free” landings of an F/A-18 Hornet on a U.S. Navy carrier.

Controlled by the avionics and software from the X-47B, the F/A-18 conducted 58 coupled approaches to the USS Eisenhower on July 2, including 16 intentional touch-and-gos and six arrested landings, program officials say.

The tests keep the UCAS-D program on track for carrier trials of the unmanned X-47B in 2013. The first aircraft has flown at Edwards AFB, Calif., and both air vehicles will be delivered to the NAS Patuxent River, Md., test center for shore-based testing in 2012.

Acting as a surrogate, the F/A-18 showed the X-47B will be able to land autonomously under command from the ship. The tests included 28 straight-in, or Case 1, instrument approaches where the unmanned system took over control 8 mi. behind the ship.

The other 30 were visual, or Case 3, approaches where the system took over control as the F/A-18 passed the carrier on the downwind leg and then turned the aircraft on to its final approach,
says Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager.

Flights were conducted using precision GPS and Tactical Targeting Network Technology high-speed data links to navigate relative to the carrier and send commands to the aircraft.

Engdahl says the tests demonstrated the Navy’s distributed control concept, in which a mission operator on the carrier always has positive control of the aircraft, but the ship’s air traffic controller, the air boss in the tower and landing signals officer on the flight deck can send commands to the unmanned vehicle as they would to a manned aircraft.

“You send basic commands to the aircraft and the system calculates all the paths itself and puts together a profile,” says Don Blottenberger, deputy program manager. “The carrier exercises oversight and override, everything else is automated.”

The next steps are to complete flight-envelope expansion at Edwards and then ship the X-47Bs to Patuxent River for shore-based catapult launches, arrested landings and carrier pattern work through 2012, Engdahl says.

Further surrogate test flights are planned next year, working with the USS Truman, and one of the X-47Bs will be hoisted aboard the carrier to evaluate maneuvering of the unmanned aircraft on the flight deck.

Carrier trials of the X-47B in 2013 will be followed in 2014 by flight tests of autonomous aerial refueling. Flight tests for this phase of the program will begin late this year using a Learjet as a surrogate.”
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Unread post13 Jul 2011, 09:47

U.S. Navy Awards Study Contracts For Unmanned Carrier-borne Stealth By: Bill Carey July 2011

http://www.ainonline.com/ain-defense-pe ... no_cache=1

"Four American companies will demonstrate concepts for an unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike (UCLASS) aircraft to the U.S. Navy. Study contracts worth about $500,000 each were awarded late June to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI, which offers the Sea Avenger version of the jet-powered Predator C); Lockheed Martin (a version of the still-secret RQ-170 Sentinel); Northrop Grumman (already flying the X-47B under a previous Navy contract) and Boeing (which will adapt the recently flown Phantom Ray). The Navy is looking for a carrier-based persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and strike capability by 2018.

In a recent briefing to journalists, Darryl Davis, Boeing Phantom Works president, described UCLASS as “a program that’s emerging rapidly. [It is] probably the next program of record that goes to a down-select in the next 12 months or so.”

Davis said Boeing is about to conduct a handling demonstration of the Phantom Ray on a simulated carrier deck, using human gestures and radio frequency devices to control the aircraft. The Phantom Ray completed its first flight April 27 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

GA-ASI first described the Sea Avenger in May 2010, and completed a wind-tunnel test last February. The test validated low-speed characteristics of a new folding wing, resulting in higher endurance and lower approach speeds, GA-ASI said. The design features a structure that is reinforced for carrier operations, and has a retractable electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, air-refueling probe and internal weapons bay.

Meanwhile, GA-ASI told AIN that it is building three more Predator C Avengers. The prototype first flew in April 2009. This aircraft completed weapons testing in April at Naval Air Station China Lake, Calif. The company declined to specify which weapons were tested, but they could include Hellfire missiles and GBU-38 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs). The UAV is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PW545B turbofan. GA-ASI said the second Predator C is expected to fly before year-end. The company has begun construction of the third aircraft and has ordered long-lead items for a fourth. The Predator C has been developed on company funding, according to GA-ASI, and no customer has yet been announced."

"General Atomics is developing a marinized version of its Predator C jet-powered UAV, named Sea Avenger, for the U.S. Navy’s UCLASS requirement. (Photo: General Atomics)"

http://www.ainonline.com/index.php?eID= ... or_C-1.jpg
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Unread post15 Sep 2011, 07:00

U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Honored by Defense News

http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/page ... l?d=231766

"Tailless, First-of-Its-Kind Aircraft Headed Toward First Carrier Landings, Launches in 2013
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 8, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerospace trade publication Defense News has selected the U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) -developed X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) as its Unmanned Technology & Innovation Achievement for 2011....

...The autonomous X-47B is the air vehicle for the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. It will be used in 2013 to demonstrate the first carrier landings and launches by a tailless, low-observable-relevant unmanned system. The fighter-sized aircraft features an innovative, GPS-based navigation and landing system that will enable it to land autonomously, with precision, on the moving deck of a Navy aircraft carrier....

...In addition to the planned carrier launches and landings in 2013, added Pamiljans, the program will also demonstrate the ability of the X-47B to conduct autonomous aerial refueling operations in 2014...."
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Unread post15 Sep 2011, 07:20

Hmmm, surprised this thread hasn't been moved over to the drones section yet.
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Unread post30 Sep 2011, 23:15

X-47B UCAS Flight Test Highlights -- Summer 2011 [We see da hook]

"Uploaded by northropgrummanmedia on Sep 29, 2011
Two minute review of recent flight test activities for U.S. Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstration aircraft at Edwards AFB, Calif. The X-47B was designed, developed and produced by Northrop Grumman, the leader in unmanned systems."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Oq4qah5 ... _embedded#!
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