recommended reading

Navy Unmanned Aircraft Returns to Carrier Flight Ops

The Navy's unmanned X-47B lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

The Navy's unmanned X-47B lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. // US Navy

The Navy’s X-47B unmanned aircraft returned to sea yesterday on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and for the first time conducted flight operations with manned aircraft.

The fighter-sized X-47B made the first carrier landing of an unmanned aircraft July 10, 2013, on the USS George H.W. Bush operating off the Virginia coast and first flew off the Roosevelt in November 2013.

Capt. Beau Duarte, program manager for the Navy's Unmanned Carrier Aviation office, said the tests showed the X-47B could take off, land and fly in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft, while the Roosevelt maintained normal flight deck operations.

The first series of manned/unmanned operations began yesterday morning, when the ship launched an F/A-18 and the X-47B. After an 8-minute flight, the X-47B executed an arrested landing, folded its wings and taxied out of the landing area. The deck-based operator used a new deck-handling control to manually move the aircraft out of the way of other aircraft, allowing the F/A-18 to touch down close behind the X-47B's recovery.

Jamie Cosgrove, a spokeswoman for the Naval Air Systems Command, said upgrades to software on the X-47B enabled it to operate on the Roosevelt with manned aircraft. Lt. Cmdr. Brian Hall, X-47B flight test director, said: "We re-engineered the tailhook retract actuator and updated operating software to expedite wingfold during taxi, both of which reduce time in the landing area post-recovery. Our goal was to minimize the time in the landing area and improve the flow with manned aircraft in the landing pattern."

The Navy said this launch and recovery sequence will be repeated multiple times over the course of the planned test periods. Cosgrove said the X-47B will conduct flight operations from the Roosevelt for 10 days, including night operations. Northrop Grumman developed the X-47B and manufactured two test aircraft under a contract estimated to be worth $800 million.

The Navy said it will continue X-47B flight operations over the next year to refine the concept of operations to demonstrate the integration of unmanned carrier-based aircraft within the carrier environment and mature technologies for its planned  Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.