The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft currently under development by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. Under a contract awarded in 2007, the company designed, produced and is currently flight testing two X-47B aircraft. In 2013, these aircraft will be used to
demonstrate the first carrier-based launches and recoveries by an autonomous, low-observable-relevant unmanned aircraft. The UCAS-D program will also mature relevant carrier landing and integration technologies, and demonstrate, in 2014, autonomous aerial refueling by the X-47B aircraft.
Foundation for the Future:
UCAS-D is designed to help the U.S. Navy explore the future of unmanned carrier aviation. A successful UCAS-D flight test program, including a series of successful carrier-based launches and recoveries, will help set the stage for the development of a more permanent, carrier-based fleet of unmanned aircraft.