X-47B UCAS completes land-based catapult launch
The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator successfully completed a land-based catapult launch at Patuxent River Naval Air Station on Nov. 29, the Naval Air Systems Command said.
The effort is part of the Navy UCAS program's goal to integrate an unmanned aircraft into a carrier environment and reduce the technical risk associated with developing potential future unmanned, carrier-compatible systems, said Navy officials.
The steam catapult launch of the pilotless X-47B was conducted to ensure the vehicle will be able to structurally handle the rigors of the unique and stringent aircraft-carrier environment.
Following more ground-based catapult verification and final flight software validation at Patuxent River NAS, the X-47B UCAS demonstrator will be assigned to the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) for initial sea trials.
The Navy will use the X-47B to demonstrate the first carrier-based launches and recoveries by an autonomous, unmanned aircraft in 2013.
William Welsh is the managing editor of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @WilliamWelsh12.