Northrop Grumman X-47B
UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle = unbemanntes Kampfflugzeug)
Northrop Grumman (Integrated Systems)
PO Box 509066
San Diego, CA 92150-9066
General (Allgemeine Angaben)
Crew (Besatzung): 0
Weapons (Bewaffnung): 2 x JDAM (905 kg each) or 12 of the Small Diameter Bombs (113 kg each).
For the UCAS-D programme of the US Navy, the X-47B will not carry weapons.
Power plant (Antrieb): 1 x Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220
Thrust (Schub): 105,7 kN
Length (Länge): 11,63 m
Height (Höhe): 3,10 m
Span (Spannweite): 18,92 m
Weapons laod (Waffenzuladung): 2040 kg internal
Max. gross weight (max. Abflugmasse): about 19050 kg (up to 21790 kg have been mentioned)
Cruise speed (Marschgeschwindigkeit): high subsonic
Service ceiling (Gipfelhöhe): 12190 m (40000 ft)
Combat radius (Einsatzradius):
- over 2775 km (1500 NM) for ISR missions
- 1850 km with a 2 hour loiter time over the target area
- 2400 km with a 2040 kg combat load
Ferry range (Reichweite): 6500 km (3500 NM)
Flight time (Einsatzdauer): about 7 hours
US Navy: Two air vehicles and two ground stations were ordered on 1 August 2007, after the X-47B won the UCAS-D competition against the Boeing X-45.
In the earlier J-UCAS programme, which was stopped in early 2006, three X-47B demonstration vehicles with three associated mission-control stations and logistical support elements were to have been built.
Northrop Grumman got a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract worth 635,860 million US-Dollars on 1 August 2007. This runs until September 2013 and includes two air vehicles and two ground stations.
For the operational assessment phase of the J-UCAS concept demonstration programme, Northrop Grumman had been awarded a contract from DARPA on 18 August 2004. It had a potential value of 1,0373 billion US-Dollars. That programme was cancelled in early 2006 by the Pentagon.
The X-47B is a stealthy unmanned surveillance and attack aircraft for land- and ship-based operations. Potential X-47B UCAS operational missions include: persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting, long range precision strike, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, information operations, electronic attack, ballistic missile detection, anti-submarine warfare, communications relay, and support for distributed operations of the U.S. Marine Corps and Special Operations Forces.
According to DARPA, the X-47B defined the larger end of the J-UCAS test vehicles (compared to the Boeing X-45C).
The UCAV is to have a synthetic aperture radar and an integrated electronic warfare system.
The X-47B is “the initial air-vehicle configuration for a modular X-47 system”, said Northrop Grumman.
For the UCAS-D (Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration) programme of the US Navy, the emphasis is on reconnaissance and surveillance missions with electro-optic, infrared and radar sensors. The X-47B UCAS-D will be the first ever unmanned tailless jet to land aboard a carrier. The UCAS-D program will establish the feasibility of operating stealthy autonomous unmanned aircraft from aircraft carriers, enabling the Navy to project a highly survivable and persistent surveillance and attack presence from anywhere to anywhere on the globe, Northrop said.
Companies involved in the X-47B programme are:
GKN Aerospace: design and fabrication of the forward fuselage.
Goodrich: Stealthy, flush mounted air data system
Lockheed Martin: Leading edges of the aircraft, control surfaces and engine inlet as well as systems integration
Pratt & Whitney: F100-220 engine, a modified version of the Pratt & Whitney F100-220E that powers current F-15E and F-16
Smiths: is the largest non-partner equipment supplier, contributing the vehicle and mission management computers, landing gear system, electical power generation and distribution, triple-redundant engine interface units (EIU) and engine throttle actuators (ETAs). The ETA is supplied in partnership with Eaton Aerospace.
Wind River Systems: software parts
Northrop Grumman flew its X-47A Pegasus for its first and only time on 23 February 2003.
The company unveiled its operational systems concept for a naval unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV-N) on 15 April 2003. The concept combined the “kite” aerodynamic shape demonstrated with the X-47A with a “flying wing” shape.
As a modification to its Phase IIA UCAV-N agreement, Northrop Grumman got an additional 160 million US-Dollars in April 2003 for the production of two full-scale X-47B vehicles. The company said it will adapt its design to accommodate a consolidated set of Navy and Air Force performance demands.
Lockheed Martin was added to the X-47 program in July 2003.
On 16 September 2003, Northrop Grumman announced that it had selected Pratt & Whitney as its propulsion partner on the X-47B. A definitive powerplant was not named at that time, but the F100 was said to be favourite for the prototypes.
The Pentagon established the J-UCAS programme in the fall of 2003.
A full-scale model of the X-47B was unveiled during the opening of the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2004. The model was also shown at the International Air Tattoo the weekend before. At that time, a first flight was planned for 2006.
A new systems integration laboratory (SIL) to help identify any potential hardware, software or system cost issues was opened on 15 October 2004 at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems unit in San Diego.
On 2 June 2005, Northrop Grumman said that it had started construction of the first X-47B. The work was being performed by teammate GKN Aerospace in St. Louis Flight demonstrations were now expected to begin in 2007.
On 12 August 2005, Pratt & Whitney and Northrop Grumman announced that they had begun ground testing the power plant for the X-47B in West Palm Beach, Fla. Pratt & Whitney had completed assembly of the first ground test engine at the company's engine center in San Antonio, Texas. The engine was delivered in June and had accumulated over 80 ground test hours to date. "The ground testing program will validate all major elements of the X-47B propulsion system, including inlet compatibility, exhaust system performance and durability, controls, and subsystem integration," said Jim Reed, J-UCAS Program Manager for Pratt & Whitney. "Included in the ground test run series was a simulated carrier approach throttle cycle. The engine performance has been flawless to date."
On 12 October 2005, X-47B-partner Lockheed Martin reported that a full-scale pole model had completed its first round of testing at the Helendale Measurement Facility in California. The radar cross section testing of the vehicle was planned to continue throughout 2006. The full-scale pole model was designed and built in less than 13 months and funded entirely with Lockheed Martin's Independent Research and Development dollars. What made it distinct from conventional pole model designs was its modular and flexible configuration, allowing future large scale physical changes.
The J-UCAS programme was terminated by the Pentagon in early 2006, as no more funds were allocated to the programme in Fiscal 2007. This was because USAF interest had vaned. The US Navy on the other hand was funded to continue research work on unmanned combat air vehicles able to land on aircraft carriers.
An RFP for the Unmanned Air Combat System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) was issued in late 2006, with responses due by 2 April 2007. The announcement of a winner was expected by June.
On 1 August 2007, the Department of Navy announced that Northrop Grumman, Integrated Systems had been selected to provide the Navy Unmanned Combat Air Systems Technical Demonstration. The $635.8 Million Cost Plus Incentive Fee contract was for the demonstration of the aircraft carrier suitability of an autonomous low-observable unmanned air vehicle, as well as demonstrate critical aircraft carrier suitability technologies in a relevant environment. Specifically, the effort will involve shipboard operation, including catapult takeoffs, arrested landings and flight in the immediate vicinity of an aircraft carrier. Flight testing was scheduled to begin in late 2009 or early 2010.
In September 2008, Northrop Grumman said that the first of two X-47B carrier demonstration system air vehicles at Palmdale was well over 50 percent complete and ahead of its build schedule, enabling this first flight in November 2009, just over 24 months from initial contract award.
Northrop Grumman unveiled the first of the X-47B at a ceremony in Palmdale on 16 December 2008. The aircraft will now undergo subsystem and structural testing in preparation for first flight in the fall of 2009 (from Palmdale to Edwards AFB). UCAS CV Demonstration sea trials are planned to begin in late 2011. The second X-47B aircraft was started at Palmdale in October 2008 and was expected to be completed in 2009.
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