X-47B unmanned test aircraft hoisted aboard ship for first sea tests (updated)

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.

The X-47B was brought down on the barge from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, on the lower Chesapeake Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Lorenzo J. Burleson)

Workers attach the aircraft to the crane. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Lyle H. Wilkie III)

Hoist away! (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Christopher A. Morrison)

Lifted by floating crane YD-257, the aircraft is swung over the TRUMAN's forward flight deck. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Northrop Grumman by Mr. Alan Radecki)

Careful now . . . (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Christopher A. Morrison)

A calm day made the evolution easier. (U.S. Navy photo via Northrop Grumman)

After unwrapping, technicians will check out the aircraft before beginning handling tests, an important step in learning how to move the unmanned aircraft around the carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Lorenzo J. Burleson)

More video of the same event: 
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In this photo taken 8 July 2012, civilians from the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System program office (PMA 268) train crewmembers of the USS HARRY S TRUMAN to operate newly-installed X-47B equipment and systems. The gear was added to the ship during a major overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Benjamin Malvezzi)

Several views of one of two X-47B aircraft, seen at a 31 July 2012 media event at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. It was the first time east coast media had been given an up-close look at the planes, which were shipped this summer from California. (Photos by Christopher P. Cavas)

The X-47B features folding wings for storage aboard an aircraft carrier, although the feature was not demonstrated at this event.

The shape of the X-47B evokes the U.S. Air Force's much larger B-2 stealth bomber, also built by Northrop Grumman.

Christopher P. Cavas
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Christopher P. Cavas

If it's on, over, under or around the water, I write about it. Ships and aircraft, units, tactics, leadership, strategies, acquisition, politics, industry. In the USA and around the world.
Christopher P. Cavas
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