Northrop Grumman unveiled the first of two aircraft of an unmanned combat air system (UCAS) during a ceremony for Navy officials, state and local government representatives, suppliers and Northrop Grumman employees. The aircraft represents a milestone in the progress toward the development of an autonomous combat aircraft designed to be deployed from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
“Unveiling the first X-47B UCAS aircraft signals a sea change in military aviation, made possible through the Navy’s vision and leadership,” said Scott Winship, Northrop Grumman vice president and Navy UCAS program manager. “I’m extremely proud of the Northrop Grumman-led industry team for its tireless dedication and hard work accomplishing this important milestone.”
The X-47B also aims to be a force-multiplier for aircraft carriers.
“The X-47B will demonstrate how unmanned combat aircraft can operate from aircraft carriers and is a necessary first step toward extending the aircraft carrier’s reach and power projection from anywhere in the world,” said Capt. Martin Deppe, the U.S. Navy Unmanned Combat Aircraft System Program Manager. “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.”
In August of 2007, the U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a six-year, $635.8 million contract to conduct the first ever at-sea carrier launches and recoveries with a fixed-wing unmanned air system (UAS). Northrop made a commitment to fly by Fall of 2009. Northrop Grumman reaffirmed its commitment in a recent press release.