CAPITOL HILL: A bipartisan letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus argues that the Navy should reexamine the approach it’s taking to the stealthy carrier-based Unmanned Aerial System known as UCLASS. UCLASS letter fm Forbes to Sec. Mabus 9-17-2013 Reps. Randy Forbes and Mike McIntyre, the chairman and ranking members of the House Armed Services seapower and… Keep reading →
AUVSI: The Navy’s experimental carrier stealth drone, the X-47B, would have made a third landing on the USS George H.W. Bush last month but for the fact the plane knew it was doing a test and decided to waive itself off, Adm. Mathias Winter said here this morning. Think about that. This is a plane… Keep reading →
As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →
[Updated Thursday with details on third, aborted landing attempt] Two out of three ain’t bad, if you’re trying something no one’s ever done before. Landing on the narrow, pitching deck of a Navy aircraft carrier is one of the hardest things a human being can do. Today, for the first time in history, a robot… Keep reading →
The eagle hasn’t exactly landed, but it did the next best thing. This afternoon, off the Virginia coast, the Navy’s experimental X-47B UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) became the first unmanned aircraft to do a “touch and go” on an aircraft carrier. That’s a major milestone for the pioneering drone, which just this Tuesday conducted… Keep reading →
[Corrected description of Navy test sequence] Unmanned aircraft are relatively easy to fly. Landing one without crashing is hard. Getting one to take off from the narrow, pitching deck of an aircraft carrier is harder still. Landing on a carrier? That’s hard enough to give human pilots nervous breakdowns. Soon, it will be the final… Keep reading →
It’s hard enough for a human pilot to take off from the cramped and pitching deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier. Today, for the first time in history, a Remotely Piloted Aircraft did it. You can bet that military leaders in Beijing and Tehran sat up and took note as the batwinged X-47B drone… Keep reading →
90 years ago, in the fall of 1922, US Navy pilots made the first landings on America’s first-ever aircraft carrier. (Okay, the British did it first). Just a few weeks from now, a Navy aircraft will make history again — except this time there won’t be a pilot. Meet the Navy’s new robotic Top Gun,… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The Navy’s top admiral talked up cheap ships and high tech this morning, from laser weapons to a new double-decker version of the Mobile Landing Platform vessel (pictured above). Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said precious little about the rolling budget cuts called sequestration. He clearly preferred to emphasize a bold vision of the future rather than the current budget crisis that has forced the fleet to halve its aircraft carrier presence in the volatile Persian Gulf.
Indeed, speaking at a Newseum conference sponsored by McAleese & Associates and Credit Suisse [click here for full coverage], the CNO struck a remarkably optimistic note about the current fiscal misery: “If we get a bill at the end of this month, all of the carrier woes” — delays not just to deployments but to maintenance overhauls — “all go away,” Adm. Greenert said. “The money’s in place; we [just] need the authority to spend it.” Keep reading →
NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER: Landing a jet plane on an aircraft carrier is one of the hardest and most dangerous things a human being can do, with pilots’ stress levels spiking higher than in combat. Now the Navy is trying to teach a robot how to do it: The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System, the UCAS.
“You have to think of every single contingency and work it into the software,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy’s UCAS program manager, at an event yesterday to roll out the X-47B for the press. The two UCAS aircraft, built by Northrop Grumman, have already gone through extensive testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, but that was just landing and taking off from a conventional airstrip. Now both robot planes have moved out east to Patuxent River to work on “the basics of operating around the aircraft carrier,” Engdahl said. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The unmanned aircraft most likely to become the first to takeoff and land on aircraft carriers is moving to the next phase of testing, moving from Edwards Air Force Base to the Navy’s main operational test site at Patuxent River, Md.
The X-47B, also known as the Navy’s UCAS-D, soared higher than 15,000 feet and flew at a speed of 180 knots during more than 23 flights and 50 tests. The aircraft moved to Maryland yesterday. It also “demonstrated multiple maneuvers relevant to carrier operations, including extending and retracting a tail hook, completing an autonomous ‘touch-and-go’ landing – an aviation first – and performing landings at a high sink rate and in a heavy weight configuration,” according to a Northrop Grumman press release. Keep reading →