The new Navy pilotless aircraft

Discussion in 'Modern' started by seesul, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    Got it by e-mail today. Sorry for typos in the text, I just copied it...


    X-47B NAVY CARRIER PILOTLESS AIRCRAFT
    Date: Saturday, December 20, 2008, 2:09 PM
    PALMDALE, Calif. The Navy’s plan for its future carrier air wing took a leap into autonomous flight on Tuesday with the unveiling here of a stealthy, bat wing-like unmanned jet.

    Dubbed Air Vehicle 1, the X-47B aircraft is the first of what will be two demonstration aircraft built by Northrop Grumman Corp. It was designed to test the idea of an autonomous airplane that would launch and recover on Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and conduct strike and other missions without the hands-on controls of an onboard pilot.

    The X-47B unmanned jet, the first to launch and recover aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, would strike targets and do aerial reconnaissance, surveillance and time-sensitive targeting -- all without a pilot aboard. Officials unveiled the single-jet, cockpit-less aircraft, one of two known as Unmanned Combat Air Systems-Demonstration, or UCAS-D, during a Tuesday ceremony at Northrop

    Hundreds of workers joined military and company officials in a hangar at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale site for the official “unveiling†ceremony, where guests got a close-up look at an aircraft the Unmanned Combat Air System-Demonstration, or UCAS-D that only two months ago wasn’t yet assembled.

    The X-47B’s bat wing shape takes a page from the Air Force’s B-2 stealth bomber, which Northrop Grumman designed and built, then in secret, at this desert location north of Los Angeles .

    “This will be the airplane we’ll be flying next year,†Scott Winship, UCAS program manager and Northrop Grumman vice president, told reporters before the ceremony.

    Engineers will put the aircraft through a series of proof tests here and at nearby Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and will conduct its first flight before the aircraft heads east to Patuxent River, Md., in November 2009 for a year of additional testing and the official “roll out†ceremony. “We’ve still got a long way to go,†said Gene Fraser, deputy vice president for Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems-Western Region.

    That includes the important shipboard trials, which will test the aircraft in the harsher, less forgiving and busy environment of a carrier in the open ocean. Program officials plan to conduct sea trials and the first flight aboard an aircraft carrier in November 2011, an event set to mark the 100th anniversary of naval aviation. The aircraft carrier Truman will likely get the nod as the first to host and operate the aircraft at sea, said Capt. Martin Deppe, the Navy’s UCAS program manager.

    Winship said the advent of the aircraft “signals a sea change in military aviation.â€

    The carrier-based aircraft will provide commanders with an airplane that can be launched farther at sea, and without a pilot, the aircraft can fly distant missions and loiter over a target or combat zone much longer than what a human pilot and aircrew can safely do.

    “This airplane is flying alone,†Deppe noted.

    Officials said the X-47B was designed for autonomous aerial refueling by both naval tankers, which use the probe and drogue system, and Air Force tankers, which refuel with a boom and receptacle.

    Northrop Grumman, which last year won the Navy’s $635.8 million contract to build the two X-47B aircraft, leads an industry team building the single-engine aircraft, which is designed with landing gear and an arresting hook for carrier catapults and launches and foldable wings for easier stowage.

    The jet’s twin weapons bays will hold a pair of 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or guided bombs, for strike missions,

    But it also will be outfitted with various systems and sensors that would expand its capabilities to include time-sensitive targeting and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

    Navy officials hope to ultimately outfit and deploy the first unmanned combat squadron by 2025, when the unmanned airplanes would operate from carrier flight decks alongside the Joint Strike Fighter jets.

    By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer

    PHOTO COURTESY NORTHROP GRUMMAN
     

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  2. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    I'd heard about this a/c a few years ago, but I didn't know it was carrier-capable.
     
  3. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    That is a sinister looking bird 8)
     
  4. Flyboy2

    Flyboy2 Member

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    Little side note...
    Grumman plans to use the X-47 as the basis for its design to answer the 2018 bomber requirement. They plan on scaling it up and adding pilots, but essentially using the same systems and overall airframe.
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    You mean Northrop.
     
  6. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    According to the photo credit, you both are correct.:dontknow:
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Actually when the companies "merged" for the most part Grumman exists in name. Although there are still operations on LI and in Florida "Northrop-Grumman" is mainly a California company, with most of the programs and management between Palmdale and Hawthorne.
     
  8. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Oh, ok, but aren't they both listed as owning the Newport News Shipyard. I just thought it was a full on merger, my bad. Sorry.:oops:
     
  9. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Northrop-Grumman is a single entitiy these days so it doesn't really matter. Same as Lockheed Martin, or BAE-Boeing





    sorry, I made that last one up for a laugh :)
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Northrop actually swallowed up Grumman, much in the same manner Boeing swallowed McDonnell Douglas
    You mean Boeing-BAE? 8)
     
  11. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Now THAT is not too far fetched at all. Sadly.
     
  12. Flyboy2

    Flyboy2 Member

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    Ok sorry for the mix up... But they still plan on using the X-47 as a basis for the 2018 bomber right?
     
  13. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Yes, I have seen an impression of the design thast looks very much like a scaled up X-47B with a B-2 style cockpit. However I don't know if this is the genuine proposal or just arty misdirection. During the F-22's development for example all the competiotors, including Lockheed, put out ATF artwork that bore little resemblance to the actual design with the real look of the YF-22 only being revealed when it was rolled out of the factory.
     
  14. mkloby

    mkloby Active Member

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    Having worked with them, UAV's have dramatically increased their capabilities in even the last 5 years. They will continue to do so at an alarming rate. We shall see how the military budgets fare this tight economy...
     
  15. thatpoorguy

    thatpoorguy New Member

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    I've seen pictures but no one's been able to tell me for sure if the navy has the mq-1 predator. If they do, did they make it carrier based?
     
  16. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    UAVs must scare the former-fighter pilots in the Air Force brass the way old horse officers were scared by the death of horse cavalry.
     
  17. Smoke

    Smoke Member

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    #17 Smoke, Jun 25, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
    I think you're right.

    But it's not just the old brass, I've heard about a lot of current fighter pilots complaining about the UAVs to. Imagine going through all of the flight training, doing all of the hard work to fly a supersonic fighter jet, only to be stuck in a dark room flying a remote-controlled airplane.

    But I suppose it make sense. Since the next generation of fighter pilots will have grown up spending all of their time playing video games, which isn't all that different from flying a UAV.
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Actually the mindset is changing with regards to UAVs at least in the USAF. These days many would be combat pilots are starting to embrace the importance and career benefits of UAVs. The USAFA just graduated its first 3 cadets who completed a UAV flight training program. Additionally, there is going to be a UAV pilot screening program set up for ROTC pilot candidates.

    I don't think UAVs will ever fully replace the manned fighter but will rather supplement the mission, taking the pilot out of harm's way. Many of the pilots I work with, including former fighter guys are taking UAVs with mixed feelings but for the most part many of them feel they will never be fully replaced.
     
  19. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting story. Thanks for posting.
     
  20. Smoke

    Smoke Member

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    #20 Smoke, Jun 25, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
    I'm glad to hear that. I agree that the manned fighter should never fully be replaced, but there are missions that are to dangerous (or easy) to send a manned aircraft if another option is available.

    Anyway, back on topic. I don't normally find the UAVs very interesting, but I like this one. Being a big fan of Northrop (and Grumman) I can't wait to see this thing flying.
     
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