Sea-based attack drone readied for first carrier trials
Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 00:59
Nov. 29 - The US Navy's first sea-based, unmanned attack aircraft is being prepared for its maiden test flight from an aircraft carrier. The Northrop Grumman X-47 B arrived for duty aboard the USS Harry Truman on Monday (November 26) with the Navy expected to begin the first ever sea tests of a pilotless drone next month. Rob Muir has more.
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Northop Grumman's X-47 B, the result of five years research and development, was hoisted aboard the USS Harry Truman, berthed at Norfolk, Virginia.
The Harry Truman will be the first aircraft carrier ever to host test operations of a pilotless drone.
The X-47 B is the first pilotless aircraft designed to operate from an aircraft carrier at sea and carry out pre-programmed missions autonomously. Take-off and landing are controlled by computer. So is the deployment of weapons. The aircraft is capable of conducting surveillance and strike mission within a range of nearly 3000 kilometres with in-flight refuelling also controlled by the click of a computer mouse on board ship.
Land-based tests over the past eighteen months have been successful. But engineers admit the conditions at sea pose challenges the drone is yet to face.
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