Officials at the Northrop Grumman Corporation announce that their X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration aircraft took its first flight in a cruise configuration on September 30.
The achievement marks an important milestone for the program, which is developed for the US Navy. Now that the aircraft is proven to be capable of folding its landing gear and flying in its final configuration, engineers can move on with the next stage of the project.
In addition to the landing gear, engineers also analyzed and validated precision navigation hardware and software, which provide the foundation for X-37B's operations. Knowing how the aircraft will behave is essential for operating it from an aircraft carrier.
“Last week's flight gave us our first clean look at the aerodynamic cruise performance of the X-47B air system […] and it is proving out all of our predictions,” Northrop Aerospace Systems vice president and Navy UCAS program manager Janis Pamiljans says.
“Reaching this critical test point demonstrates the growing maturity of the air system, and its readiness to move to the next phase of flight testing,” he adds. X-47B was developed under the US Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program.