X-47B Cruises Toward Validation

Northrop Grumman’s X-47B naval unmanned combat air system demonstration aircraft successfully flew in its cruise configuration for the first time. The milestone flight, conducted Sept. 30 from Edwards AFB, Calif., helped to validate the navigation hardware and software used to land on a moving aircraft carrier, according to a company release. “[The] flight gave us our first clean look at the aerodynamic cruise performance of the X-47B air system . . . and it is proving out all of our predictions,” said Janis Pamiljans, Northrop’s Navy UCAS program manager. “Reaching this critical test point demonstrates the growing maturity of the air system, and its readiness to move to the next phase of flight testing.” Northrop plans to begin transitioning aircraft to NAS Patuxent River, Md., later this year for shore-based suitability testing in 2012. (See also X-47B Makes First Flight from the Daily Report archives.)