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While X-47B is for non-operational use, its precision navigation algorithms will be used to create the first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft

The United States Navy launched an unmanned aircraft from a modern carrier flight deck for the first time ever Tuesday. 

The unmanned aircraft was the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator, and its first-ever launch from a modern aircraft carrier represents how manned and unmanned aircraft on carrier flight decks will be merged in the future.

A mission operator aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) controlled X-47B, showing off how well it works within a carrier environment. It landed back at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. 

 
"This historic event challenges the paradigm of manned carrier landings that were first conducted more than 90 years ago," said Rear Adm. Mat Winter. "In that challenge though, comes a respect and admiration for all those naval aviators – past and present – that have ensured the value of the Navy aircraft carrier/carrier air wing team.

"The addition of unmanned aviation to this formidable, power projection team provides a complementary capability, which will ensure carrier naval aviation remains viable and relevant for decades to come. It also shows our collective readiness within naval aviation to embrace these future opportunities to move forward with unmanned carrier aviation. 

"This is a big deal!"

While X-47B is for non-operational use, its precision navigation algorithms will be used to create the first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft.

That future aircraft is expected to feature "24/7 carrier-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and targeting capability" which will operate with manned aviation assets.

Source: Navy Live



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Try landing then we'll be excited.
By KC7SWH on 5/15/2013 12:48:25 PM , Rating: 5
While this is a good milestone, I'll hold my excitement till they land the thing on the carrier.




RE: Try landing then we'll be excited.
By AMDftw on 5/15/2013 1:04:24 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking the same thing. I wonder what the lag time is? "Video feed to operator and back to plane?"
May not be much if any within a mile radius but what if 10-25 miles or longer?


RE: Try landing then we'll be excited.
By KC7SWH on 5/15/2013 1:15:57 PM , Rating: 3
Because of the lag time I don't think that they could ever do it with an operator it would all need to be done automatically by the computer. Radar with a couple of reflective points on the deck should do it.


By Cypherdude1 on 5/16/2013 5:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Because of the lag time I don't think that they could ever do it with an operator it would all need to be done automatically by the computer. Radar with a couple of reflective points on the deck should do it.
You're forgetting the Navy could place the operators directly inside the aircraft carrier and not have him thousands of miles away. The US carriers are the biggest warships ever made. They could easily place the operators for all of the drones inside the carriers.

On another note, it appears the future for actual pilots is bleak for warplanes. No more Top Gun Maverick and Goose. No more pilot roles for Tom Cruise.


RE: Try landing then we'll be excited.
By Stuka on 5/15/2013 1:13:52 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly.

quote:
This historic event challenges the paradigm of manned carrier landings

This event had nothing in common with a manned carrier landing.


RE: Try landing then we'll be excited.
By Amiga500 on 5/15/2013 1:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
his historic event challenges the paradigm of manned carrier landings


I know.

Wonder why they said this... particularly since they landed a hornet automatically back in 2011... (and did so repeatedly).


RE: Try landing then we'll be excited.
By Solandri on 5/15/2013 3:40:50 PM , Rating: 2
They've been experimenting with automated carrier landings for much longer.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_United_States...
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/military/...
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/articleDetails.jsp?...

An anecdote I was told in the 1990s by someone who worked for a defense contractor (no idea if he actually worked on ACLS or if this was just an urban legend he was retelling) was that in the earliest versions they had the computer calculate the optimal flight path.

Have you ever watched how birds land on a branch? They fly towards a point beneath the branch, then at the last moment they redirect their flight upwards, this converts their forward momentum into upward momentum, and gravity reduces their upward momentum as they pop up, allowing them to easily alight on the branch with minimal stress to the feet and legs.

Well, apparently the computer decided this was the optimal flight path for a minimum velocity carrier landing. So the initial test pilots had some white knuckle moments when it looked like the autopilot was flying them straight into the carrier's fantail.


By Amiga500 on 5/15/2013 3:50:58 PM , Rating: 2
I know... but it was a recent example which even a cerebrally-challenged naval admiral should have been aware of. ;-)


By Stuka on 5/15/2013 1:13:52 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly.

quote:
This historic event challenges the paradigm of manned carrier landings

This event had nothing in common with a manned carrier landing.


By marvdmartian on 5/16/2013 7:42:27 AM , Rating: 2
Pretty sure that's supposed to happen today (5/16/2013). The Navy first wanted to make sure they could successfully launch, now they'll do a launch and recovery.


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