X-47B Pegasus UCAS-D

Grumman unveils the X47B UCAS-D air vehicle one at its Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility. Photos by Jeff Swann

Grumman unveils the X47B UCAS-D air vehicle one at its Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility. Photos by Jeff Swann

Northrop Grumman release:

PALMDALE, Calif., Dec. 16, 2008 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) today unveiled the first of the U.S. Navy’s new unmanned combat aircraft at a ceremony here attended by Navy officials, state and local government representatives, suppliers and Northrop Grumman employees. The new aircraft, designated the X-47B Navy Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS), 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.

“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 Navy awarded the demonstration contract to Northrop Grumman in 2007 and aircraft assembly was completed in just over a year.

First flight is scheduled for fall of next year.

Read the rest here.


  1. And I suppose the X-47B will be armed with the Illudium Pu-36 Space Modulator?


    Heh… As a former Navy Aircrewman, I’d like to be among the first to welcome our new robot overlords, and look forward to the completion of SkyNet! I mean, what could POSSIBLY go wrong with UAV operations on a carrier?

    Count me among those opposed to the waste of a good airframe on anything other than being a target drone.

  2. A lot of peoople bitch about “robots”, but the fact remains, all un manned air systems have a “person” in the loop. Excepting some automated functions such as take off and landings, and even those can be reverted back to manual control at the discretion of the operator. Truly autonomous “bots”, making their own judgement calls (i.e. shoot—-no shoot) WOULD BE a BAD plan, I agree.

    Resistance is futile! Beep!

  3. Didn’t the X-45A already demonstrate coordinated autonomous SEAD operations? (Yup.)
    I think Flanker is right, though- it’s one thing to demonstrate the capability, another for it to be okayed by the politicians.
    This brings up an interesting angle though. In the strike role, a UAV performing a preplanned mission against predetermined coordinates (rather than seeking targets of opportunity) is a Tomahawk that returns to base.

  4. Seems to me the Navy could get a much quicker leg up in unmanned operations by operating Predators/Reapers off of existing decks. I suspect you could even launch them off of amphibs if they use a full-deck running takeoff WWII-style.

    Imagine augmenting attack/surveillance operations over Afghanistan and Pakistan by two squadrons of Reapers operating from one of the older assault ships. Keeps the Navy relevant in that fight, gets more eyes over the AOR, evolves a new method of naval warfare, and puts the pilots and ground crews closer to operations without actually putting them on the ground in theater.

  5. Thanks for the link, jaymaster!!

    “How low can LO go? One paper, co-authored by a principal in DenMar Inc., the company founded by Stealth pioneer Denys Overholser, refers to the development of fasteners for a body with an RCS of -70 dB./sq. meter — one-thousandth of the -40 dB. associated with the JSF, and one-tenth that of a mosquito. DTI queried RCS engineers who don’t believe such numbers are possible; but then, when mention of a -30 dB. signature leaked out in a 1981 Northrop paper, nobody believed that either.”


  6. Pingback: X-47B To Fly Soon

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