How do you maneuver an unmanned aircraft around the carrier deck without a pilot on board? Use a wireless hand controller strapped to your arm. That's what the US Navy is doing during testing of the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland.
The first round of shore-based trials have been completed, during which the deck operator used the control display unit (CDU) to control the X-47B's engine thrust, mainwheel brakes and nosewheel steering to execute tight turns and maneuver the aircraft into the catapult and out of the landing area following a mock carrier landing.
The CDU will be used to maneuver the X-47B on the aircraft-carrier deck when it conducts at-sea trials next year.