PALMDALE, Calif., 17 Dec. 2008.Northrop Grumman unveiled the first of the U.S. Navy's new unmanned combat aircraft yesterday at a ceremony attended by Navy officials, state and local government representatives, suppliers and Northrop Grumman employees. The new aircraft, designated the X-47B Navy Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS), is the first of two aircraft Northrop Grumman will produce for the Navy to demonstrate unmanned combat aircraft operations from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
The Navy awarded the demonstration contract to Northrop Grumman in 2007 and aircraft assembly was completed in just over a year.
"The X-47B will demonstrate how unmanned combat aircraft can operate from aircraft carriers and is a necessary first step toward extending the aircraft carrier's reach and power projection from anywhere in the world," says Capt. Martin Deppe, the U.S. Navy Unmanned Combat Aircraft System Program Manager. "We look forward to a time when we can introduce a new long range, persistent, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) – strike capability to the carrier decks of tomorrow."
The aircraft will now undergo subsystem and structural testing in preparation for first flight in fall 2009. UCAS CV Demonstration sea trials are planned to begin in late 2011.
The second X-47B aircraft is in initial assembly at Northrop Grumman's facility in Palmdale, Calif., and is expected to be completed next year.
Northrop Grumman's industry teammates on the X-47B UCAS program include Dell, Eaton Aerospace, GE Aviation, GKN Aerospace, Goodrich, Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Moog, Parker Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins, and Wind River.