U.S. Navy, Air
Force, Northrop Grumman Recognized For X-47B Flight Test
By Daniel Baxter
August 16, 2011 - The U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman U.S.
Air Force flight test team tasked with evaluating the
performance of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System
(UCAS) carrier demonstration aircraft has been awarded
the 2011 James S. McDonnell Award for Outstanding Team
Achievement in the Field of Flight Test Engineering by
the Society of Flight Test Engineers (SFTE).
The Northrop Grumman X-47B is a demonstration Unmanned
Combat Aerial Vehicle. The X-47 began as part of DARPA's
J-UCAS program, and is now part of the United States
Navy's UCAS-D (Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration)
program to create a carrier-based unmanned aircraft.
Unlike the Boeing X-45, initial X-47A Pegasus
development was company-funded. The original vehicle
carries the designation X-47A Pegasus, while the
follow-on naval version is designated X-47B.
The X-47B is planned to have a three year test program at Edwards AFB, California and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, culminating in sea trials in 2013. The aircraft will be used to demonstrate carrier launches and recoveries, as well as autonomous in-flight refueling with a probe and drogue. The X-47B has a maximum unrefueled range of over 2,000 miles and an endurance of more than six hours.
1950 by aerospace pioneer James S. McDonnell, the Foundation was
established to "improve the quality of life," and does so by
contributing to the generation of new knowledge through its
support of research and scholarship. The Foundation awards
grants via the Foundation-initiated, peer-reviewed proposal
processes described in the 21st Century Science Initiative.
was recognized for testing innovations related to the evaluation
and flight demonstration of the tailless X-47B unmanned aircraft
earlier this spring, and to the July 2 demonstrations of
aircraft- and ship-based precision navigation and landing
systems that will enable the team to safely launch and recover
the X-47B on a Navy aircraft carrier in 2013.
Members of the team from Northrop Grumman and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Patuxent River, Md. accepted the award at an SFTE banquet held Aug. 11 in Seattle during the organization's annual symposium. Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program.
award is truly an honor for the UCAS-D program," said Janis Pamiljans,
vice president and program manager, Navy UCAS, for Northrop Grumman's
Aerospace Systems sector. "It recognizes the outstanding mix of
collaboration, creativity and engineering talent that characterizes our
government/industry flight test team.
?By defining and
implementing a new family of test methodologies, the team has
successfully positioned us to evaluate the performance of a tailless,
autonomous, low-observable relevant unmanned air system in the complex
and very challenging carrier environment."
American aviation pioneer and McDonnell Aircraft Corporation founder
James Smith "Mac" McDonnell, the McDonnell award is given annually by
SFTE to honor excellence by flight test teams. Northrop Grumman has
previously shared in this award, first in 2007, as part of a Boeing
Corporation-led flight test team for the EA-18G aircraft in 2007, and
again in 2008, as part of a Northrop Grumman/Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
SFTE is a
fraternity of engineers whose principal professional interest is the
flight testing of aerospace vehicles. The organization's chief objective
is to advance flight test engineering by providing technical and
fraternal communication among individuals, both domestic and
international, in the related engineering fields of test operations,
analysis, instrumentation and data systems.
The UCAS-D program is designed to demonstrate the operation of a tailless, low-observable, autonomous unmanned aircraft to and from the deck of an aircraft carrier, including launch, recovery, bolter and autonomous aerial refueling. The program also plans to mature technologies required for future Navy unmanned air system programs.
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