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Video: X-47B Performs Historic Touch and Go Aboard Carrier

by Mike Hoffman on May 20, 2013

An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator prepares to execute a touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), marking the first time any unmanned aircraft has attempted a touch and go landing at sea. George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean.The X-47B continues to make aviation history during it’s round of tests aboard the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush. The carrier drone performed its first ever touch and go operation aboard a carrier on May 17.

Just three days earlier, the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System-Demonstrator became the first ever drone to be launched from a carrier. The drone crossed the Chesapeake Bay and landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., about an hour later.

Navy officials will continue to perform a battery of tests before the service plans to execute an arrested landing with the the X-47B on the carrier. Performing the touch and go is one of the important first steps, Navy leaders said.

“This landing, rubber hitting deck, is extremely fulfilling for the team and is the culmination of years of relative navigation development. Now, we are set to demonstrate the final pieces of the demonstration,” said Don Blottenberger, UCAS-D Deputy Program manager, in a statement.

Capt. Jaime Engdahl, manager of the UCAS program, said he was happy with the launch of the X-47B from the flight deck of the carrier, but he explained at a May 15 press conference that the landing aboard a moving carrier is more difficult.

“The most technologically demanding and significant portion is actually touching down on a moving flight deck and then continuing to roll down the center line of the runway on the carrier while the aircraft and the carrier are pitching and rolling,” he said.

Navy leaders used the word perfect when describing the first ever touch and go by the X-47B, built by Northrop Grumman.

“We are proud to be a part of another historic first for Naval Aviation. The landing was spot-on and it’s impressive to witness the evolution of the Carrier Air Wing,” said Capt. Brian E. Luther, Commanding Officer of the George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

For those who missed it last week. Here is the video of the launch.

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