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Northrop Grumman unveils the X47B UCAS-D air vehicle one at its Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility. Photos by Jeff Swann
UCAS-D Marks 'Sea Change' in Naval Strike, ISR Capabilities

The introduction of unmanned combat aircraft on board aircraft carriers will open revolutionary new capabilities for military aviation and naval aviation capability in particular. Scott Winship, Northrop Grumman vice president and Navy UCAS-D program manager defines the new capability as 'sea change in military aviation'. Captain Martin Deppe, the U.S. Navy Unmanned Combat Aircraft System Program Manager explains the Navy's vision “We look forward to a time when we can introduce a new long range, persistent, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) -- strike capability to the carrier decks of tomorrow." (more...)

The first Unmanned Combat Air Systems (UCAS) developed by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy was unveiled yesterday (December 16, 2008) at the company's manufacturing plant at Palmdale, California. The new aircraft, designated the X-47B is the first of two aircraft Northrop Grumman will produce for the Navy to demonstrate unmanned combat aircraft operations from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The Navy awarded the demonstration contract to Northrop Grumman in 2007 and aircraft assembly was completed in just over a year.

Following the roll out, the UCAS will undergo subsystem and structural testing through 2009, leading to the first flight scheduled in fall 2009. Carrier suitability tests and demonstration will be carried out during the sea trials planned to begin in late 2011.

The X-47B UCAS is produced by Northrop Grumman and industry teammates including Dell, Eaton Aerospace, GE Aviation, GKN Aerospace, Goodrich, Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Moog, Parker Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins and Wind River.