X-47B UCAS  (Eight Videos)

Unmanned Combat Air System

Updated June 10, 2015: added aerial refueling video #8

X-47B on deckProgram Overview:The X-47B will be a transformational, carrier-capable, multi-mission, unmanned combat air vehicle. Strike fighter-sized, it is a survivable, long range, high endurance and persistent platform capable of a variety of missions including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, and Time Sensitive Targeting/Strike.

Navy UCAS Program: Born from the former Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program, the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program will develop a strike fighter-sized unmanned air vehicle that will demonstrate carrier-based launch and recovery in the 2011 time frame. Successful UCAS carrier landing demonstrations will set the stage for a potential full-scale UCAS development effort in support of the Naval Aviation Master Plan, which includes provisions for introduction of a Navy UCAS in the 2020 time frame.

The Navy UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program was awarded to Northrop Grumman Corporation on 1 Aug 2007. The six-year $635.8 million contract calls for the development of two X-47B low-observable representative, operationally relevant unmanned air systems (UAS) that will demonstrate the first-ever carrier-based autonomous launches and recoveries. Born from the former Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) program, UCAS-D leverages Northrop Grumman’s commitment and previous investment in technology development to yield a mature, low risk and cost-effective program. The program is the essential first step toward full-scale development in support of the Naval Aviation Master Plan which includes provisions for introduction of a Navy UCAS in the 2018 time frame.

As a carrier-based force multiplier, the X-47B UCAS will demonstrate initial capability to produce a fighter-sized, survivable, long range, high endurance and persistent platform for missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and time sensitive targeting and strike. Envisioned to complement manned systems and act as a key enabler for persistence in the battle space, the X-47B will be the first stealthy, tailless, jet-powered UCAS to operate from the carrier deck. The first air vehicle has been built and is scheduled to fly in late 2009. The second air vehicle started build in March 2009. Flight-envelope verification and expansion, and certification of aircraft carrier operations will be conducted in 2010 in preparation for at sea carrier landings in late 2011 with follow-on analysis and program completion by 2013.

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X-47B DiagramSpecifications

Wingspan 62.1 ft                  Length 38.2 ft                       Altitude > 40,000 feet

Payload (internal) 4,500 pounds

Power Plant Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220U

Top Speed High subsonic

Unfueled range w/max payload 2,100 nautical miles

Air refueling provisions USN/USAF

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NNS) -- An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) completed its first flight Feb. 4, an essential step in the Navy's ground-breaking effort to design, develop and integrate an autonomous unmanned air system on an aircraft carrier.

A Navy and Northrop Grumman team operated the aircraft from a ground control station at Edwards Air Force Base. The 29-minute flight was conducted at 5,000 ft. with landing gear down; the vehicle flew a racetrack pattern over the dry lakebed with standard-rate turns.

The X-47B's maiden flight marks the start of a year-long, approximately 50-flight, envelope expansion test program at Edwards. The first of two aircraft will complete its initial testing in late 2011 and the second aircraft will begin testing shortly thereafter. After completion of initial airworthiness testing in California, each aircraft will be transported to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. for the remainder of the carrier demonstration program.

"We are breaking new ground by developing the first unmanned jet aircraft to take off and land aboard a flight deck," said Rear Adm. Bill Shannon, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. "This demonstration program is intended to reduce risk for potential future unmanned systems operating in and around aircraft carriers."