At 11 a.m. of July 29, the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) completed its historic first flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
The tailless, unmanned aircraft took off from Pax River and flew over the Chesapeake Bay, reaching an altitude of 7,500 feet and an air speed of 180 knots, in a planned 35-minute flight. Matt Funk, UCAS lead test engineer, described the milestone event as “the first of many flights at Pax River to demonstrate X-47B’s compatibility with aircraft carrier flight procedures and launch/recovery equipment.”
The X-47B arrived from Edwards Air Force base, California, to Pax River in June to pursue its testing program. During the test flight, the X-47B communicated with a shore-based version of the aircraft carrier systems to ensure precision landing on the carrier deck located in the Navy UCAS Aviation/Ship Integration Facility at Pax River.
UCAS-D team members will use the specialized testing capabilities and facilities available at Pax River in the coming months to certify the unmanned strike aircraft’s ability to perform in an aircraft carrier environment.
“The X-47B’s flight today is another important step closer to the Navy’s vision of operating tailless, autonomous, unmanned systems from aircraft carriers,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager.