US Navy's X-47B UCAS Aircraft


Jeff Head

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THE US NAVY's X-47B UNMANNED COMBAT AIR SYSTEM
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In August 2007, the U.S. Navy selected Northrop Grumman as the prime contractor for the Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The program will provide the capability of an autonomous, low-observable unmanned aircraft to perform the first-ever carrier launches and recoveries, and autonomous aerial refueling. It will lead to an operational UCAS that will perform medium to long range recon, surveillance, and attack and interdiction missions.

[video=youtube;5Oe7j85lOII]http://www.youtube.com/embed/5Oe7j85lOII[/video]​

The first flight of the X47-B occurred at Edwards Airforce Base on February 4, 2011. US aircraft carrier qualification will occur in 2013.

The six-year $635.8 million contract calls for the development of two X-47B fighter-sized, long-range, high endurance aircraft designated the X-47B. Test activities are in progress that will lead to completion of the Navy's carrier launch and recovery objectives by 2013. Successful at-sea trials will set the stage for potential follow-on acquisition programs and operational production in the 2016-2018 time frame

The X-47B is equipped with an avionics suite supplied by BAE Systems Platform Solutions of Johnson City, New York. The avionics and vehicle management computer performs flight control processing, autopilot control, engine control processing, mission command and control, navigation and other functions.

The computer features an embedded, open-architecture CsLEOS real-time operating system which uses 'brick-wall' time and memory partitioning to allow multiple applications to run on the same system without interfering with each other.

The system also provides multiple scheduling modes, allowing users to switch between different schedule profiles in real time.

The navigation systems include the US Navy shipboard relative global positioning system (SRGPS) automatic landing system.

The aircraft is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5C turbofan engine rated at 14,19kN. The air vehicle carries 472kg of fuel but has a maximum capacity of 717kg of fuel for long-range operations or for increased loiter times.

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Jeff Head

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These type aircraft will work great under an uimbrella of air dominance or major air superiority conditions (which condiions would have to first be achieved by Super Hornets or F-35Cs)...and depending on how good their stealth is, perhaps in contested air circumstances for recon and surveillance and targets of opportunity.

But they are also planned to be CE capable and able to be controlled by accompanying Super Hornets or F-35Cs such that they can have protection from the fighters and guided into their launch or station points.

Will be interesting to see how many they actually embark. Right now the talk is initially of a small squadron of 4-6 per carrier, though I would not be surprised to see a squadron of eight. If they do well, I expect that number will increase.
 
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Bltizo

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These type aircraft will work great alone in air dominance or air superiority situations...and depending on how good their stealth is, perhaps in contested air circumstances for recon and surveillance and targets of opportunity.
Surely not -- the flight characteristics of this type of plane is suited mostly (I'd say only) for strike and surveillance missions.

There are currently no proposals for X-47B or other similar flying wing UCAVs to be equipped for air dominance missions. At most they can act as slow flying bomb trucks (but they can only carry a few MRAAM sized missiles each anyway) to assist real fighter aircraft in the air superiority mission, but going it alone against real opfor fighters in their current incarnation will be stupid (I would have said suicide, but technically no one will be dying if the UCAV gets shot down)
 

Jeff Head

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Surely not -- the flight characteristics of this type of plane is suited mostly (I'd say only) for strike and surveillance missions.

There are currently no proposals for X-47B or other similar flying wing UCAVs to be equipped for air dominance missions. At most they can act as slow flying bomb trucks (but they can only carry a few MRAAM sized missiles each anyway) to assist real fighter aircraft in the air superiority mission, but going it alone against real opfor fighters in their current incarnation will be stupid (I would have said suicide, but technically no one will be dying if the UCAV gets shot down)
You misundertsood my post. Sorry for the miscom. I am saying that those are the things the X-47B could do in the event the US maintained Air Dominance, Air Superiority, or even contested air. Those conditions would have to be first provided by Superhornets or F-35s.

Once those conditions were achieved, then the X-47 type aircraft would operate in the modes indicated which were, just as you pointed out, recon, surveillance and strike.

Hope that clears it up.
 
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Bltizo

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You misundertsood my post. Sorry for the miscom. I am saying that those are the things the X-47B could do in the event the US maintained Air Dominance, Air Superiority, or even contested air. Those conditions would have to be first provided by Superhornets or F-35s.

Once those conditions were achieved, then the X-47 type aircraft would operate in the modes indicated which were, just as you pointed out, recon, surveillance and strike.

Hope that clears it up.
Oh I see, that makes much more sense now.
 

Jeff Head

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US Navy's X-47B UCAS Aircraft locaded on USS Harry Truman

US Navy loads the X-47B onto the USS Harry Truman for aircraft integration tests and qualificaitions. They will spend the next several weeks moving it aorund deck, parking it, using it on the elevators, and in the hangar bay spaces.


[video=youtube;n_56fNy1RUc]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_56fNy1RUc[/video]

[video=youtube;kYuKkB_9jA0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYuKkB_9jA0[/video]

Early next year...probably in the Spring, they will conduct the first landings and take-offs from the carrier, so that is a really big milestone coming up.
 

bd popeye

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Jeff do those wings fold? I know this is one of two prototypes. I ask because that aircraft looks like it will eat up a lot of valuable deck space.
 

bd popeye

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Thank you equation...I have an acquaintance aboard the Truman..hopefully he will keep me updated on what is happening with this aircraft.
 

Jeff Head

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I think this will answer your question.
Thank you.

That picture is available on the thread, on this same page (according to my settings of posts per page), but people probably miss it. Thank you for reposting it here for more to see.

Here's another one:



So yes, the wings fold for more adequate and effcient storage on the carrier deck and in the hangar.

It's a good question and something the US Navy did not overlook in designing this new UVAS aircraft..as these two pictures demonstrate.
 
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