Time lapse video:
One of two Northrop Grumman X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator aircraft was barged down from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and arrived on Nov. 26 at Norfolk naval base, Va., where it was promptly hoisted aboard the aircraft carrier USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). This marks the first time one of the stealthy aircraft has been on board a ship.
TRUMAN was fitted during a recent overhaul with gear and software to operate the X-47B, the first jet unmanned strike aircraft designed for carrier operation. Extensive carrier deck handling tests will be run before flying operations, scheduled to take place in early December.
The carrier will undertake three weeks of tests with the X-47B, both in port at Norfolk and underway along the Atlantic coast. Engineers and sailors will use a hand-held control display unit to control the aircraft moving along the carrier’s deck.
Meanwhile, at Pax River, engineers are scheduled to fly the other X-47B in late November, partly to prepare for the shipboard tests.
After operating the X-47B, the TRUMAN will conduct other exercises before deploying to the U.S. Central Command region early in 2013.