Flight Worthy and Carrier Bound

The Navy’s experimental X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator aircraft successfully completed basic air-worthiness testing at Edwards AFB, Calif., announced contractor Northrop Grumman. Trials at Edwards “demonstrated convincingly the maturity, durability, and performance of this revolutionary new unmanned system,” said Northrop Grumman’s UCAS program manager Carl Johnson in the company’s June 14 release. Since the first flight at Edwards in February 2011, the two X-47Bs flew 23 test sorties, climbing to 15,000 feet, and demonstrating stability throughout the aircraft’s performance envelope, including specific carrier-deck landing maneuvers, stated the release. “Through innovation, hard work, and an enduring partnership with our customer, we laid the foundation for the upcoming carrier integration sea trials” at NAS Patuxent River, Md., this summer, said Johnson. Testers at Pax River will probe the X-47’s catapult-launch, arrested-landing, and carrier-deck handling attributes before the Navy puts the demonstrator out to sea for full-up carrier trials, stated the company.