|Northrop Grumman X-47B Pegasus|
The X-47B cruising through the skies.
|Type||Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV)|
|Country of Origin||United States of America|
|Service History and Status|
|Used by||United States|
|Manufacturer||Northrop Grumman Corporation|
|Production History||16 December 2008 - Present|
The Northrop Grumman X-47B is a of unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator developed by Northrop Grumman. Between 2011 and 2013, the X-47B has been performing successful carrier take-offs and landings. Northrop Grumman plans to develop the prototype X-47B into a battlefield-ready aircraft around 2018 -2025.
Design and Development
When the United States Navy launched the Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) Program, it hardly contributed to it until 2000. Then, the United States Navy gave contracts of US $2 Million to Boeing and Northrop Grumman for a 15-month concept-exploration program. There were some design considerations for a naval UCAV, including: resistance to corrosive, saltwater environments, handling on deck for launch and recovery, integration with command and control systems and operation in a carrier's high-electromagnetic-interference environment.
The first flight of the X-47B (designated: Air Vehicle 1 or AV1), was performed at Edwards Air Force Base, California on 4 February 2011. A second X-47B (designated: Air Vehicle 2 or AV2) conducted it's first filght, also at Edwards Air Force Base on 22 November 2011.
The two demonstrators both were orignally planned to have 50 tests over a 3 year period. However, the aircraft performed so well in tests, they were stopped after 16 tests. The aircraft will later perform in-flight refueling. In 2011, the United States Navy, announced in-flight refueling software was to be added to the X-47B's computer systems. These protoypes will never be armed.
The X-47B features a large air intake at the front; streamlined to add stealth and reduce drag. The X-47B uses a flying wing design, which means the aircraft is incorporated into the main wing structure. This helps the plane to reduce radar detection. The X-47B's engine nozzle is at the rear centre of the aircraft. It is triangulated into the wing shape and is mostly flat.
- X-47A - First pototype developed
- X-47B - Primary prototype demonstrator strike aircraft. Liable for service around the 2020's.
- X-47C - Proposed larger UCAV, may be intended as a unmanned bomber.