History made when X-47B UCAS taxis for first time on an aircraft carrier

Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and personnel from the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program office (PMA-268) integrated test team made history Dec. 9 when they taxied an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator aircraft for the first time aboard a carrier at sea.

"Nobody has ever done this before," said LCDR Larry Tarver, Truman's aircraft handling officer, in an article published by the Harry S. Truman Strike Group Public Affairs Office. "Unmanned aerial vehicles have flown all over the world, but an X-47B has never operated on an aircraft carrier. Every evolution with this aircraft is taken step-by-step because we don't fully know how it will react to a carrier environment. It's a little out of our comfort zone, so our safety precautions are maximized."

During the test phase, UCAS deck operators used an arm-mounted control display unit (CDU) to remotely control the aircraft.

"With the CDU, we followed the aircraft director's signals to move the aircraft left or right, over the arresting wire, to and from the catapults and to various spotting positions," said Gerrit Everson, one of the operators who controlled the X-47B, in the Navy article. "These tests proved that we can taxi the X-47B with the precision that an aircraft carrier's flight deck requires."

Matt Funk, the lead test engineer on the demonstration project, said Truman has been extremely helpful during the X-47B's testing, and sailors aboard the carrier have been receptive to the training required to work with the new system.

"Everyone's really excited about this program and has provided a lot of positive feedback," said Funk in the article written by the PAO. "I think it's been especially popular with younger Sailors who have grown up surrounded by computers. They recognize that the systems used to control and fly the aircraft are very much like what they'd expect to see in a video game."

The Navy PAO also interviewed Don Blottenberger, principal deputy program manager for PMA-268, who said that the X-47B's testing aboard Truman resulted in significant progress for the UCAS demonstrator program.

"UCAS-D is a learning program which means we're here to learn all of the lessons of how we will integrate into a variety of the systems on board Truman," said Blottenberger. "Because we are still in the early stages of this technology, we aren't currently looking at how these aircraft might be utilized from a mission stand point.”

Reader Comments

Tue, Dec 11, 2012 Chris

At the risk of asking a stupid question, how did the aircraft get on board the Truman?

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