And Then There were Two

The Navy’s second X-47B unmanned combat air system carrier demonstrator took to the skies on its maiden flight, announced prime contractor Northrop Grumman Monday. During the roughly 30-minute hop on Nov. 22, the new UCAS-D airframe, designated AV-2, ascended to 5,000 feet after takeoff from Edwards AFB, Calif., flying several orbits over Rogers Dry Lake before touching down safely, according to the company. Having two UCAS-D airframes will allow the Navy-contractor testing team to begin aircraft carrier suitability evaluations at NAS Patuxent River, M.D., while simultaneously continuing flight-envelope expansion at Edwards. “With two aircraft now available, we can increase the amount of aircraft performance data we gather, which will allow us to meet our required aircraft capability demonstration goals in a timely manner,” said Carl Johnson, Northrop’s UCAS-D program manager. Land-based trials will occur at Pax River, including catapult shots and arrested landings.