Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

US Navy

The Northrop Grumman X-47B aboard the USS Harry S. Truman

The Northrop Grumman X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator completed its first sea trials aboard the Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman this week. The unmanned aircraft was shipped aboard the Truman on November 26 and has been subjected to a wide variety of tests to see how the robotic vehicle operates on a warship.  Read More

The X-47B UCAS arrives onboard the USS Truman, the first modern aircraft carrier to host t...

Northrop Grumman has delivered two X-47B Unmanned Combat Aircraft Systems (UCAS) to the US Navy, which has begun three weeks of tests aboard the USS Truman – the first aircraft carrier to host test operations for an unmanned aircraft. The X-47B is based on the Pegasus X-47A (originally designed in 2001) but features improved landing gear and folding wings for work aboard carriers.  Read More

Launching crew prepares the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) for its first land-bas...

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator has taken yet another step on the path towards unmanned aircraft operating amongst piloted aircraft on a carrier deck with its first ever steam-powered catapult launch. While the inaugural launch was conducted on land at a shore-based catapult facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, it gives the team confidence as it progresses towards a planned launch from a carrier next year.  Read More

Retrofitting engines on existing Navy ships, like the USS Arleigh Burke pictured here, wit...

With around 430 gas-turbine engines on 129 of its ships burning about US$2 billion worth of fuel every year, the U.S. Navy is examining the potential of using Rotating Detonation Engines (RDEs) to improve fuel consumption and cut costs. Researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) estimate that retrofitting RDEs to its fleet could save the Navy approximately 300 to 400 million dollars a year.  Read More

General Atomics' electromagnetic railgun prototype

Back in February, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) test-fired a prototype electromagnetic railgun that had been built by BAE Systems for the U.S. Navy. BAE isn’t the only game in town, however – this Tuesday, ONR announced that it is now evaluating a second railgun prototype, made by San Diego-based General Atomics.  Read More

USS Fife, a Spruance-class destroyer powered by gas turbines

Tell someone that you’ve invented a car that runs on water and they're liable to report you for fraud. That hasn’t stopped scientists and engineers at the U.S.. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) who want to run warships on seawater - or at least, to turn seawater into jet fuel. This may sound like they’ve been standing too close to the ether again, but the idea is to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater and then convert these into jet fuel by a gas-to-liquids process. If this proves practical, American naval vessels could refuel themselves at sea.  Read More

Concept image of the Lockheed Martin Sea Ghost

Lockheed Martin has hinted at plans for a new UAV carrier combat aircraft, known as the UCLASS Sea Ghost. This makes the American defense contractor the fourth contender for the U.S. Navy’s unmanned carrier combat aircraft contract, joining Northrop’s X-47B, Boeing’s Phantom Ray and General Atomic’s Sea Avenger.  Read More

Scientists have successfully used gallium indium phosphide solar cells to generate electri...

Although solar cells are proving indispensable for powering things such as electronic sensors on dry land, sensors located underwater have typically had to rely on batteries, or electricity piped in from photovoltaic panels situated above the surface. That could be changing, however, as scientists from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have recently developed functioning underwater solar cells.  Read More

The Northrop Grumman RQ-8A Fire Scout UAV helicopter is the test platform for the MMSS (Im...

Piracy on the high seas of the 21st century requires 21st century solutions. As part of the on-going effort to curb attacks on shipping, the United States Navy will use a UAV helicopter to test a new sensor system in the waters off California during the summer of 2012. This new 3D sensor package in combination with new computer algorithms will allow the Navy to more accurately identify pirate vessels hiding among innocent shipping on the sea lanes with much greater speed and much less manpower.  Read More

The first full-energy shots from the electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher captured f...

The electromagnetic (EM) railgun prototype launcher that was recently installed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Dahlgren, Virginia, has commenced firing, kicking off a two-month-long series of full-energy tests. Predictably, the first full energy shots make for some pretty impressive video.  Read More

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