Northrop Grumman unveiled its unmanned carrier bomber jet Wednesday,  the first of two demonstration aircrafts built by the company.  Called Air Vehicle 1, the X-47B aircraft is part of the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System program (UCAS).  “This will be the airplane we’ll be flying next year,” Scott Winship, UCAS program manager and Northrop Grumman vice president, told reporters before the ceremony.  Program details follow.

Program Overview:
The X-47B will be a transformational, carrier-capable, multi-mission, unmanned combat air vehicle. Strike fighter-sized, it is a survivable, long range, high endurance and persistent platform capable of a variety of missions including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, and Time Sensitive Targeting/Strike.

Navy UCAS Program:
Born from the former Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program, the Navy UCAS program will develop a strike fighter-sized unmanned air vehicle that will demonstrate carrier-based launch and recovery in the 2011 timeframe. Successful UCAS carrier landing demonstrations will set the stage for a potential full-scale UCAS development effort in support of the Naval Aviation Master Plan, which includes provisions for introduction of a Navy UCAS in the 2020 timeframe.

Objectives of the UCAS program are to 1) demonstrate the technical feasibility of carrier landings with a tail-less, low observable relevant planform prototype; 2) continue maturation of relevant carrier landing and integration technologies; and 3) conduct UCAS carrier landings.


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