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neptune

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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 07:43

Northrop Grumman-built U.S. Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Aircraft Completes Historic First Flight

First-of-its-Kind, Tailless Aircraft Moves Closer to Carrier Trials in 2013
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Feb. 4, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Today, the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC)-built U.S. Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft successfully completed its historic first flight at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), Calif.
Conducted by a U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman test team, the flight took off at 2:09 p.m. PST and lasted 29 minutes. This event marks a critical step in the program, moving the team forward to meet the demonstration objectives of a tailless fighter-sized unmanned aircraft to safely take off from and land on the deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
"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 Navy's UCAS-D program manager.
Northrop Grumman is the Navy's UCAS-D prime contractor and leader of the UCAS-D industry team.
"Designing a tailless, fighter-sized unmanned aircraft from a clean sheet is no small feat," said Janis Pamiljans, vice president and UCAS-D program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "Commitment, collaboration and uncompromising technical excellence among the Navy, Northrop Grumman and the UCAS-D team industry partners made today's flight a reality. We are indeed honored to have given wings to the Navy's vision for exploring unmanned carrier aviation."
Taking off under hazy skies, the X-47B climbed to an altitude of 5,000 feet, flew several racetrack-type patterns, and landed safely at 2:38 p.m. PST. The flight provided test data to verify and validate system software for guidance and navigation, and the aerodynamic control of the tailless design.
As with all test programs, first flight represents the culmination, verification and certification of pre-flight system data collected and analyzed by both the Navy and Northrop Grumman. Airframe proof load tests, propulsion system accelerated mission tests, software maturity and reliability simulations, full system taxi tests, and numerous other system test activities were all completed and certified prior to first flight.
The aircraft will remain at Edwards AFB for flight envelope expansion before transitioning to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., later this year. There, the system will undergo additional tests to validate its readiness to begin testing in the maritime and carrier environment. The UCAS-D program is preparing the X-47B for carrier trials in 2013.
The Navy awarded the UCAS-D prime contract to Northrop Grumman in August 2007. The six-year contract calls for the development of two X-47B fighter-sized aircraft. The program will demonstrate the first-ever carrier launches and recoveries by an autonomous, unmanned aircraft with a low-observable-relevant planform. Autonomous aerial refueling will also be performed after carrier integration and at-sea trials.

http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/page ... l?d=212928

Armament
2 × GBU-31 JDAM (905 kg each)(2000 lb)
Avionics
EO/IR/SAR/GMTI/ESM/IO

A big threat to the future of "manned" fighters is in the form of the X-47B. With a weapons bay capable of carrying both AIM-120, AIM-9 and JDAMS, this will be a competitor for funding throughout the life of the JSF program :evil: .
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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 08:01

Powered by the F100-PW-220U (Un-augmented)

Curious the press release from PW appears to show an Un-Augmented PW-200 or PW-100?

http://www.pw.utc.com/StaticFiles/Pratt ... manned.pdf

They likely used a PW-220E, and adopted it from there?

:shrug: TEG
[Airplanes are] near perfect, all they lack is the ability to forgive.
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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 08:29

Has the boeing product been sidelined or is that too still in the pipeline?

Off topic TEG..
How much wear and tear does a non-augmented(for a layman like me- non afterburning I think).. reduce on the petals and engine itself?
Say the F-100.. with an afterburner.. TBO?..and without one?
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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 08:44

The Video of First Flight on the page shows a nice NO FLARE carrier landing. Cool.
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ucasflight1stNoFlareTD.jpg
RAN FAA A4G: http://tinyurl.com/ctfwb3t http://tinyurl.com/ccmlenr http://www.youtube.com/user/bengello/videos
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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 10:14

How NO FLARE is my landing? X47B_first flight

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... Qle98RH0Mo

"On Feb. 4, 2011, Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy successfully conducted the historic first flight of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft.

The flight, which was conducted under hazy skies at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), Calif., began at 2:09 p.m. PST and lasted 29 minutes.

The flight is a critical first step for the Navy/Northrop Grumman UCAS-D team toward demonstrating that a tailless, fighter-sized unmanned system can safely land and take off from the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier.

The flight provided test data that will contribute to the verification and validation of the X-47B's air vehicle's guidance and navigation software, and the aerodynamic control of its tailless design."
RAN FAA A4G: http://tinyurl.com/ctfwb3t http://tinyurl.com/ccmlenr http://www.youtube.com/user/bengello/videos
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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 10:25

Kind of looks like they're using Hornet landing gear.
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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 10:41

Northrop's "day in the life" of a naval UCAS by Graham Warwick

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/graha ... -of-a.html
RAN FAA A4G: http://tinyurl.com/ctfwb3t http://tinyurl.com/ccmlenr http://www.youtube.com/user/bengello/videos
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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 19:39

X-47B Gear Down First Flight In Flight (zoomed on this pic: http://media.globenewswire.com/cache/189/hires/9544.jpg)
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X-47BgearDownInFlight.jpg
Last edited by spazsinbad on 05 Feb 2011, 20:10, edited 1 time in total.
RAN FAA A4G: http://tinyurl.com/ctfwb3t http://tinyurl.com/ccmlenr http://www.youtube.com/user/bengello/videos
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Unread post05 Feb 2011, 19:58

Angels255
Has the Boeing product been sidelined or is that too still in the pipeline?

My understanding is that Boeing's U.C.A.V. is out of the running for the Navy (at least for now), but might pop up in USAF colors down the road. Then again with U.S.A.F. thinking about long range bombers again perhaps not (see http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/ ... ike%20Plan). Bear in mind that's just an educated guess on my part, I don't have the links/data to back up my theory as to Boeing's future U.C.A.V. plans at the moment (quietly braces himself for a shellacking) :whistle:

I'm hopeful that the Northrop-Grumman X-47B will put back some of the long range into the navy's strike plans (other than missiles anyway). How this will fit in the budget and when it will be ready for service is another story (fingers crossed).
A fighter without a gun . . . is like an airplane without a wing.— Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF.
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Unread post06 Feb 2011, 01:08

Angels225 wrote:How much wear and tear does a non-augmented(for a layman like me- non afterburning I think).. reduce on the petals and engine itself?

For a 'non-augmented' (non-afterburning or non-reheat) engine, there is little need for a variable nozzle. Fixed nozzles are MUCH lighter and simpler. This reduces complexity, weight, and increases reliability. The major reason to have a variable nozzle on AB engines is the huge differences in AB, versus MIL power exhaust velocities. Non-AB engines typically operate with a simple nozzle that it optimized for the desired performance envelope.

Speaking of an F-16's F100 nozzle, there is no difference opening/closing the nozzle (petals) in AB or not; the nozzle is 'cycle tracked' for overhaul purposes. Yes the heat may be reduced, but the stress/contact on the segments, seals, bearings, actuators, etc are still taking their toll. Typical AB use during a flight would be something on the order of 1 or 2% of the flying time.

Angels225 wrote:Say the F100.. with an afterburner.. TBO?..and without one?

Technically the TBO of the F100 with or without an afterburner (Augmentor Duct and Nozzle module) would be the same; I'll explain.

F100s are 'modular' engines, there is no TBO for the engine as a whole; overhauls are tracked on the Inlet Fan Module, Core Module, Rear Compressor Drive Turbine Module (a sub-module of the Core), Fan Drive Turbine Module, Augmentor Duct/Nozzle Module, and Gearbox Module, (along with the other major external components that are tracked) Each have their own limits.

So the lowest TBO of the modules would drive a removal; change that module, test, and reinstall engine. Modules/parts can be mixed/matched as needed (or dictated) to give the longest TBO possible.

Augmentors have come a long way. I believe they started at 800 hours? then 1200 hours; 2000 cycles, and now up to 4300 cycles. The first 4300 cycle augmentors were sold on newer PW-229s, but now kits are being used to upgrade older PW-229 and PW-220 augmentors to the same TBO.

Next the PW-229 EEP is pushing module TBOs out to 6000 cycles! This is a result of technology from the F100's evolution, and the development of the F119 and F135 engines. This means the latest PW-229s are being sold with a TBO almost 50% greater than older PW-229s. This is a result of PW transferring technology/investments in the newer engines and the 6K modifications are almost completely backwards compatible with older PW-229s as they go through overhaul. Some of these durability improvements are very likely to trickle down into the PW-220 and possibly the PW-22U if used.

Another thing worth mentioning is the augmentor module is an LRU (Line Replaceable Unit) that can be changed on the flight-line without the engine returning to the shop. (If needed) Simple roll the engine about half way out, change the module, and reinstall the engine. Short test to ensure operation of the nozzle and your done. In the F100 all the spray manifolds, and associated fuel supply tubing are mounted in the Aft Fan Duct.

Side note: I would guess if the "MQ-45D" reached USAF service it would likely have a F100-PW-229U EEP, I don't think PW actively builds 'new' PW-220s but the PW-229 EEP line is still in production for the US ANG, and FMS orders.

Keep 'em flyin' :thumb:
TEG
[Airplanes are] near perfect, all they lack is the ability to forgive.
— Richard Collins
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Unread post06 Feb 2011, 01:33

X-47B first flight update, making history - and new video by Guy Norris at 2/5/2011

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/de ... d=blogDest

"Providing more details about yesterday’s milestone X-47B flight, Janis Pamiljans, Northrop Grumman vice president and UCAS-D program manager, Northrop Grumman, says the air vehicle 1 (AV1) took off at 2.09pm PST at a speed of 180 kt, and reached a maximum speed of 240 kt during its 29-minute flight over Edwards AFB. On landing, the aircraft touched down around 60-ft ahead of where it was expected to hit, but “right on the centerline”, he adds. The touchdown was the equivalent of catching the ‘number one wire’ in Navy parlance, and gives the flight test team a good starting point from where to fine tune flight control software says Pamiljans. [Someone seems to have their arsebackwards referring to No.1 rather than probably No.4 wire? No.3 would be target wire with No.4 being approx. 60 feet 'ahead'? WHATEVER :twisted: ]

The aircraft was originally targeted to fly before the end of December, but was delayed while Northrop Grumman worked to correct an asymmetric braking issue uncovered during taxi tests. A last-minute maintenance issue with an auxiliary power generation system forced the aircraft to miss its narrow flight test window on Thursday, leading to the flight attempt being made on Friday instead.

The second aircraft, AV2, has meanwhile completed its design limit load tests up to 130% with “no test anomalies” says Pamiljans. The test indicates the airframe is able to withstand the 2.4g loads it may see during air-to-air refueling maneuvers. “This aircraft is clearly carrier-capable,” he adds. AV2 is being prepared for the start of fuel testing before being transferred to Edwards around March. First flight is expected in August.

Thanks to Graham Warwick here is a newly uploaded, longer X-47B first flight video: [same as one above?]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZD8f9X9 ... r_embedded

The first flight of the X-47B comes as the Navy embarks on celebrations of the first century of Naval aviation and, as commented on by UCAS-D program manager Capt. Jaime Engdahl, comes almost exactly 100 years after Eugene Ely made the initial carrier landing on 18 January 1911. More specifically, Ely became the first pilot to land on a stationary ship. He landed on a similar temporary structure on the aft of the USS Pennsylvania which was anchored in San Francicso Bay. To arrest the landing an improvised braking system of sandbags and ropes was set up which led directly to the arrestor hook and wires. Following the landing Ely was able to take off again."
RAN FAA A4G: http://tinyurl.com/ctfwb3t http://tinyurl.com/ccmlenr http://www.youtube.com/user/bengello/videos
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Unread post06 Feb 2011, 11:43

HD version, turn it up to 720p and go full screen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJWUK4YJ4M4

With radar absorbant skin, that's gotta have a tiny RCS.
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Unread post07 Feb 2011, 07:30

Based on Ben Rich's book (and other open sources), RCS is virtually independent of size. A full-sized bomber the same shape as an F-117 would have a similar RCS.
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Unread post13 Feb 2011, 14:14

Unmanned aboard - Northrop Grumman aims to prove UCAS can operate from carriers By Graham Warwick DATE:25/01/08 SOURCE:Flight International

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/20 ... riers.html

"It is 2011, 100 years after the first aircraft landed on a ship, and Northrop Grumman's X-47B is on final descent to the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman, cruising off the Atlantic coast. The kite-shaped flying wing has no tail - and no cockpit.

With the landing signal officer poised to wave off the aircraft if it deviates from the approach path, the unmanned air combat system demonstrator crosses the carrier's stern and catches the arresting wire, decelerating sharply before snapping back, dropping the wire and taxiing clear.

"The day we grab a wire, naval aviation changes forever," says Scott Winship, Northrop's Navy UCAS programme manager. With its long range and endurance, N-UCAS promises the provide US Navy carrier air wings with a persistent surveillance and strike capability that they lack today...."
RAN FAA A4G: http://tinyurl.com/ctfwb3t http://tinyurl.com/ccmlenr http://www.youtube.com/user/bengello/videos
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Unread post13 Feb 2011, 14:48

I'm always curious how the operators cope with the radio travel time delay. As you operate further afield and at higher speeds, the RPV's distance-over-ground error induced would be (delay time) x RPV velocity, where the (delay time) would be (2x the radio travel time) + (operator decision and control input time). That could end up being quite an error.

One solution would be to have sufficient imaging range where the operator could designate a target far enough ahead of the RPV that the error is eliminated. Another might be to put the RPV in a circular orbit over the target, observe, decide, transmit. That would also eliminate the problem.
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