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Thread: X-47B is afloat

  1. #61
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    Here is some touch and go video.

    This link works better, sorry about the previous.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?client=...pEk&nomobile=1
    Last edited by surfgun; 22 May 13, at 00:50.

  2. #62
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    Wednesday is a big day for the U.S. Navy. It is the day X-47B “Salty Dog 502” departs Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and heads for USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), sailing off the coast of Virginia, to make an arrested landing aboard for the first time.

    It has been an exciting journey for the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration team over the past few years and we look forward to taking one more historic step toward a future of unmanned carrier aviation this week.

    Landing on a carrier’s flight deck is one of the most challenging tasks for a naval aviator – one that takes extensive training and regular practice to perfect. Upon completion of tomorrow’s flight, the X-47B will land autonomously without the guiding hand of an experienced pilot, but rather using precision GPS navigation, a high-integrity network connection and advanced flight control software to guide itself through the turbulent air behind the aircraft carrier and onto the moving flight deck.

    As we approach the final few days of the Navy UCAS carrier demonstration, it is interesting to look back on a few of the historic moments that happened not so long ago. Less than a year ago, on July 29, 2012, we began unmanned flight operations at Patuxent River for this program.



    X-47B operations required us to fully integrate with all manned flight operations as well as specialized test facilities and carrier suitability test sites there.

    Just six months ago, we catapulted the X-47B for the first time on land from Pax River’s TC-7 catapult site.



    A few days later, we craned “Salty Dog 502” onboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to demonstrate integration with carrier deck operations and shipboard maintenance operations. Four months ago, on March 2, we performed the first, flawless precision relative navigation touchdown on the runway.

    In May, Sailors aboard USS George H.W. Bush worked X-47B operations for the first time and the world watched as they catapulted the aircraft from the deck with ease.



    Throughout the next few days, we saw X-47B complete nine perfect touch-and-go landings on the moving carrier deck.

    When I was aboard USS George H.W. Bush during that test period, I couldn’t help but feel the buzz from the crew, who were excited to be part of the technology revolution and on the leading edge of history for unmanned systems. I asked a few of the flight deck handlers for feedback on what we could do better to integrate unmanned systems in dynamic, dangerous world of the carrier flight deck. Their response was simple, “We wouldn’t change anything; the aircraft is doing well.” The same crew aboard USS George H.W. Bush will make history again this week as we prepare to trap the X-47B for the first time.

    Final X-47B shore-based arrested landings at Patuxent River were successfully completed in late June. Carrier suitability engineers put the aircraft through a series of very demanding tests, including hard landings and high speed arrestments, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were ready to land on a moving carrier deck. Both X-47B aircraft are now certified to conduct carrier flight operations, including catapults, arrested landings, flight deck taxi operations, maintenance and refueling.

    Our extremely professional and hardworking X-47B integrated test team has distinguished itself as the group who expertly proved an integrated system of an unmanned, tailless X-47B airframe, autonomous software, high integrity networks and ship based control systems. In fact, for the second consecutive year, our the team was recently recognized by the Association of Naval Aviation and Naval Air Systems Command with the Edward H. Heinemann Award for its significant contribution to aircraft design.

    The team has done a remarkable job positioning the X-47B aircraft for this week’s demonstrations, which will support the Navy’s continued progress toward fielding unmanned carrier aviation capability. It has taken several years of software development, thousands of simulated landings in high fidelity labs and many hours of flight test in the Patuxent River landing pattern to prove this aircraft is up for the challenge. Today X-47B is ready!

    As we get ready to embark on the greatest singular accomplishment for the UCAS team – our final at-sea carrier demonstration.

    I can proudly say that the team is successfully demonstrating more than a decade of Navy unmanned carrier integration design knowledge, technology development and professional experience.

    The revolutionary technologies that we have developed and proven in the harsh carrier environment including aerodynamics of a tailless aircraft, autonomous aircraft behavior, precision GPS navigation, and digitization of the aircraft carrier air traffic control procedures will truly impact the way we integrate manned and unmanned aircraft on carrier flight decks in the future.

    While the X-47B itself is not intended for operational use, the UCAS program has developed the concept of operations and demonstrated the technology for follow-on unmanned carrier based aircraft. The program demonstrated the ability to seamlessly integrate unmanned systems into the carrier environment with only small incremental changes to the existing equipment and concept of operations.
    Unmanned X-47B Readies for Final Touchdown

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Boat View Post
    What do the pilots think of all these UAVs? Are they accepting of it or is this similar to the latest pilot meetings:

    Southpark - They Took Our Job! - YouTube
    from an australian perspective, you;d not be far off the mark by stating that UAS/UCAS are seen as the way forward - eg there are proposals to have UAS as mainstream in RAAF 2025+
    the main thing to remember is that UAS are complimentary assets and capability - its not "either/or"- the other thing is that its whether the mission set is relevant for the platform, so comparisons on manned/unmanned for identical taskings just don't reflect the reality of what they can do now and what they will evolve into circa 2030 (which is generally regarded as the probable "gold" date.)

  4. #64
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    I might not have been following this correct...

    UAS (I like the system vs vehicle distinction) will have totally new missions, different then those with pilots on board?

    BTW, what's your opinion on SAABs take to make Grippen fighter unmanned?
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  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    I might not have been following this correct...

    UAS (I like the system vs vehicle distinction) will have totally new missions, different then those with pilots on board?
    The shift in terminology in the last few years has been to referring to all UAV's as UAS. There are a number of reasons for this.
    1) it reinforces that the platform is not operating on its own and is part of a broader systems construct
    2) there is a shift away from dedicated tasking for the platforms. prev terms such as UAV, TUAV, UCAV were commonly used, but at the tactical level, there is a shift towards these platforms performing proper multi-tasking. (strike, overwatch, ISR etc..). Thats because the trend is pretty akin to having an unmammed aviation capability much like LCS
    3) Until the management is finessed, then these things can't operate in a "weapons free" state. So tight management, tight control, authority levels to change behaviour in an event etc are still being refined

    BTW, what's your opinion on SAABs take to make Grippen fighter unmanned?
    its an exercise in learning - an unmanned fighter at this stage of development IMO is still nothing more than a 4th gen version of a QF-4/QF-16.

    For the swedes there's a way to go and it's a good exercise in establishing first principles. eg the swedes are where the US used to be with respect to the Israelis and UAS developments. The roles are now reversed, its the US doing the aggressive advances in innovation and future platform constructs.

  6. #66
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completed its first carrier-based arrested landing on board USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) off the coast of Virginia July 10.
    X-47B Makes First Arrested Landing at Sea (Updated 3:00 p.m, EDT)

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfgun View Post
    USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completed its first carrier-based arrested landing on board USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) off the coast of Virginia July 10.
    X-47B Makes First Arrested Landing at Sea (Updated 3:00 p.m, EDT)
    Skynet is pleased.

  8. #68
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  9. #69
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    Some more flight ops, from other angles.
    US Navy Videos

  10. #70
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    Now here is a commercial grade video. Visions of cylons...

    X-47B UCAS Aviation History Under Way - YouTube
    Last edited by surfgun; 22 Aug 13, at 01:20.

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfgun View Post
    Now here is a commercial grade video. Visions of cylons...

    X-47B UCAS Aviation History Under Way - YouTube
    Either Cylons or the pre-quel to the Dune series, when machines ruled the universe.

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by desertswo View Post
    Either Cylons or the pre-quel to the Dune series, when machines ruled the universe.
    I'm with jlvfr on this one; Skynet is coming, James Cameron is WAY ahead of his time . . . . .
    "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

  13. #73
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    Navy Autonomous Aerial Refueling Tests Under Way

    PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The Navy continues to demonstrate multiple technologies that promise to significantly increase the endurance and range of carrier-based unmanned aircraft. As part of the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program, the Navy and industry partner Northrop Grumman completed another phase of its Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) test Sept. 6 in Niagara Falls, N.Y. to demonstrate the capability to refuel unmanned aircraft in flight, according to a Sept. 11 release from Naval Air Systems Command.

    “The AAR segment of the UCAS-D program is intended to demonstrate technologies, representative systems, and procedures that will enable unmanned systems to safely approach and maneuver around tanker aircraft. We are demonstrating both Navy and Air Force style refueling techniques,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program manager.

    The Navy, Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have been working closely since 2001 to develop technologies and mature operating concepts for AAR, according to Engdahl.

    In preparation for this phase of the AAR testing, Calspan Aerospace developed, built and tested an inert refueling probe that was installed on the nose of a surrogate unmanned aircraft, a Learjet inflight simulator. In August, the AAR UCAS-D team arrived at the Calspan facility and while a team from Northrop Grumman installed the X-47B’s navigation, command and control, and vision processor hardware and software on a Calspan Learjet aircraft, the government team installed the government developed Refueling Interface System and Tanker Operator Station on an Omega 707 tanker aircraft.

    The team then conducted initial ground and taxi tests, which culminated in the first AAR test flight Aug. 28. The team then conducted a series of flights using the surrogate aircraft equipped to fly autonomously behind an Omega K-707 Tanker.

    The AAR test was designed to assess the functionality of final X-47B AAR systems and navigation performance, as well as to test the government tanker refueling interface systems. The AAR program is using similar digital messaging, and navigation processes that have been demonstrated by the UCAS-D team aboard the aircraft carrier.

    “Demonstrating AAR technologies and standard refueling procedures is the next logical step for our demonstration program. The team has shown that we can use the same systems architecture, Rockwell Collins TTNT datalink, and Precision Relative GPS algorithms to extend the concept of distributed control of autonomous systems from the aircraft carrier to the airborne refueling environment,” Engdahl said. “The initial tests showed excellent system integration as well as good navigation and vision system performance.”

    The next phase of AAR testing will continue later this fall, exercising end-to-end AAR concept of operations with a complete autonomous rendezvous, approach, plug and safe separation utilizing X-47B software and hardware installed in the Lear surrogate aircraft. Data from the demonstration will be used to assess system performance for multiple AAR refueling technologies, validate the AAR procedures and concepts, and support further development of future unmanned systems.

    “By demonstrating that we can add an automated aerial refueling capability to unmanned or optionally manned aircraft, we can significantly increase their range, persistence and flexibility,” said Engdahl, who is very impressed with the system’s performance thus far. “This is a game-changer for unmanned carrier aviation.”
    SEAPOWER Magazine Online

  14. #74
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    USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea (NNS) -- The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) conducted flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Nov. 10.

    The event, the most-recent in a series of carrier-based tests, demonstrated the integration of the latest in naval aviation technology with the most advanced and capable carrier.

    This weekend's tests demonstrated the X-47B's ability to integrate with the carrier environment. The aircraft performed precise touch and go maneuvers on the ship to generate data that characterizes the environment in close proximity of the carrier flight deck. In addition, the aircraft took part in flight deck handling drills, completed arrested landings and catapult launches. Mission operators monitored the aircraft's autonomous flight from a portable command and control unit from Theodore Roosevelt's flight deck during each of its 45-minute flights.

    "It is a tremendous opportunity for the 'Big Stick' to be a part of the development and testing of the future of Naval Aviation," said Capt. Daniel Grieco, Theodore Roosevelt's commanding officer. The UCAS is an impressive system that gives us all a glimpse into the support and strike capabilities we can expect to join the fleet in the years to come. The tactical and support possibilities for such platforms are endless, and I know the crew of TR are proud to be able to be a part of that development."

    A major objective for the UCAS-D program is to demonstrate a digitized carrier controlled environment to allow for robust communications between the aircraft and all carrier personnel involved with launching, recovering and controlling the aircraft. A digitized carrier environment will ultimately increase flexibility and improve safety.

    "This weekend's resumption of carrier-based flights for the X-47 continues our efforts to mature critical unmanned enabling technologies and reduce the technical risk for the follow-on Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) system," said Capt. Beau Duarte, the program manager for Unmanned Carrier Aviation.

    Current and future test events will continue to mature unmanned technologies and refine concept of operations to further inform unmanned carrier requirements. These program successes represent significant advancements in naval aviation technology and provide a glimpse into the future integration of manned and unmanned aircraft aboard the carrier fleet.

    "Today, we took another significant step toward integration of unmanned capabilities into our carrier airwings and aircraft carrier environments," said Rear Adm. Mat Winter. "The Navy remains steadfast in its commitment to maturing today's technologies which have established a realistic path to tomorrow's affordable, flexible unmanned carrier aviation capabilities for our warfighters."
    X-47B Operates Aboard Theodore Roosevelt

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    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    X-47B Program Honored with Laureate Award

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS), built by Northrop Grumman Corp., has won a Laureate Award for “extraordinary achievements” in aeronautics and propulsion, the company announced in a March 7 release.

    Aviation Week bestowed the award during a March 6 event held at the National Building Museum. The annual Laureate Awards recognize individuals and teams that have, through their extraordinary accomplishments, inspired others to strive for significant, broad-reaching progress in aviation and aerospace.

    In 2013, the X-47B UCAS program made history by being the first tailless, unmanned aircraft to land on and takeoff from an aircraft carrier. The Navy-Northrop Grumman team has been repeatedly recognized for its technology developments in the field of unmanned carrier aviation. To date, the X-47B has completed eight catapult launches off a carrier, 30 touch-and-goes, and seven arrested landings.

    Later this year, the X-47B will return to sea for more testing aboard an aircraft carrier. The tests will help the Navy further develop a concept of operations for unmanned carrier aviation, with a specific focus on how the X-47B operates with manned aircraft.

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