X-47B UCAS-D - Off the Cat, On the Deck

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In the same week, Northrop Grumman's X-47B combat aircraft system demonstrator has arrived on the aircraft carrier deck -- by crane -- and made its first catapult launch -- on land.

Air vehicle AV-2 was lifted off a barge and on to the flightdeck of the USS Truman on Monday (Nov 26) to begin a few weeks of deck handling trials, in port and at sea.

Photos and video: US Navy

Then today (Nov 29), AV-1 made its first launch from a shore-based steam catapult at the Navy's test center at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Previously the aircraft had completed ground taxi trials at Pax to demonstrate the wireless hand controller developed to maneuver the unmanned aircraft on deck.

Both events are part of the work-up to autonomous carrier landings and take-offs planned for 2013, to prove that a tailless flying-wing aircraft can fly from a carrier and an unmanned air vehicle operate alongside manned aircraft on and around the deck.

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