Pratt & Whitney-Powered X-47B Completes First Catapult Shot

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy completed the first catapult launch of the X-47B remotely piloted aircraft in a shore-based test shot from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. This event was "the Navy's first catapult launch of an unmanned system," according to Northrop Grumman's release on Nov. 29, the same day as the launch.

"Today's successful launch is another critical milestone in the carrier-suitability testing phase of the UCAS-D program," said Mike Mackey, director of Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator program.

Pratt & Whitney's F100-PW-220U engine and exhaust systems power the X-47B.

"Our team has worked closely with the Navy and Northrop Grumman to get ready for this important test and Pratt & Whitney's propulsion system performed well, allowing the aircraft to launch and complete all planned activity during the flight," said Jimmy Reed, director of Advanced Engine Programs for Pratt & Whitney.

After launch, the X-47B flew a series of standard maneuvers, including a holding pattern and a deck landing approach over the Chesapeake Bay, in preparation for carrier trials that are scheduled to begin next year, states the release. Ground handlers also tested the company's handheld control display unit that is designed to taxi, position, and recover the X-47. Testers plan more launches from Pax River over the next several weeks.

Another X-47 vehicle last week embarked on the USS Harry Truman (CVN-75) to begin "deck handling trials" with the control display unit; those activities are scheduled to continue through mid December.