Following the completion of airworthiness flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California on May 15, the second Northrop Grumman-built X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator was transported cross-country to Naval Air Station Patuxent (Pax) River in Maryland where it has just conducted the first flight at its new home.

The flight commenced at 11 a.m. local time on July 29 and saw the X-47B in the air over Chesapeake bay for a planned 35 minutes in which the tailess, unmanned aircraft reached an altitude of 7,500 feet and an airspeed of 180 knots (207 mph/333 km/h), before landing back at Pax River.

"This milestone event is the first of many flights at Pax River to demonstrate X-47B's compatibility with aircraft carrier flight procedures and launch/recovery equipment," said Matt Funk, UCAS lead test engineer. "The unique airspace and ship equipment at Pax River allow us to conduct the testing here before we land aboard the aircraft carrier next year."

Pax River hosts a simulated aircraft carrier environment testing facility that will allow the U.S. Navy to conduct land-based testing of precision approaches, arrested landings and catapult launches to ensure the aircraft is ready to begin testing at sea on an actual aircraft carrier.

Source: U.S. Navy