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X-47B unmanned aircraft gets its Pax River wings

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July 30, 2012

The X-47B launches rom Pax River for a 35-minute flight over the Chesapeake Bay on July 29...

The X-47B launches rom Pax River for a 35-minute flight over the Chesapeake Bay on July 29 (Photo: U.S. Navy)

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

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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