A computerised US combat drone the size of a fighter jet has completed a pilot’s most difficult task unaided after landing on an aircraft carrier at sea for the first time.
The runway just do not hold still, the air is full of turbulence: To land on an aircraft carrier, one of the most difficult maneuvers for pilots. Now it has made the U.S. Navy for the first time to sell a drone on a floating target. The unmanned aircraft of the type X-47B began on Wednesday at the USS George HW Bus stop about 110 kilometers off the coast of Virginia on the Atlantic.
The X-47B has a wingspan of about 19 meters and weighs 6350 kg. It is not a stealth drone, but built so that it is difficult to detect by radar gegnerischem. The aircraft was developed by Northrop Grumman – the costs amounted to around 1.4 billion dollars (1.07 billion euros).
The landing of the drone was on the same principle as that of a manned aircraft: She went from a hook which is then held by a cable on board the aircraft carrier. This makes the machine slowed down quickly.
Before the maneuvers on the USS George H.W. Bush has practiced the Navy drones landing ashore at Station Patuxent River (Maryland, U.S.).
US New War Drone:”See the Future”
“It’s not often the chance to see the future. But that was exactly what we were today, “enthused Navy Secretary Ray Mabus after landing. It was a wonderful day for aviation.
Less than an hour after the first landing of the drone again lifted from the aircraft carrier and landed again. In the coming days more landings are planned. The next goal that the U.S. Navy wants to achieve with a drone, it suggests: An unmanned aircraft to be refueled in flight. With only one tank, the range of the X-47B is about 3200 kilometers.
The model X-47B is a test pilot, in routine operations it will never be involved. Instead, the exercises using the drone will help to develop new unmanned aircraft for the Navy. These aircraft can be ready in 2020, says Mat Winter, who oversees the drones program of the U.S. Navy.
Four companies are concerned, to build these drones: Northrop, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics. Who awarded the contract for the so-called UCLASS program will be decided according to winter in fiscal year 2014.
There is also criticism of this Order. Loren Thompson of Lexington Institute provides, for example, the question of whether the Navy needs at all those drones. The Navy would once assess whether they could achieve with UCLASS drones something that was not cope as well with manned aircraft and drones stationed ashore. “Can we start drones from aircraft carriers Yes, we can. Is there a good reason to do that? This is not so clear, “says Thompson.
Whatever it is with their successors, the future of the two X-47B models is clear: You will soon go into retirement – as exhibits at Patuxent River and Pensacola (Florida, USA).
Watch US War Drone First time landing Aircraft carrier video[media id=919 width=610 height=340]