Video: U.S. Navy initial flight (and heavy landing) of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator.

Jul 31 2012 - 5 Comments

On Jul. 29 (or Jul.30 – the news release and the footage have a different timestamp), the U.S. Navy made history after it conducted the Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s initial flight of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D).

The tailless, unmanned aircraft launched from “Pax River” and flew for a planned 35 minutes over the Chesapeake Bay chased by an F-18D Hornet.

Noteworthy, the ‘bot performed a quite heavy landing: this is sometimes the outcome of a flare performed by a pilot who’s not sitting in the cockpit but remotely flies the aircraft. Drone pilots don’t feel the motions of their aircraft. Therefore, they lack some of those non-visual cues that help manned aircraft pilots to react instintively to some changes of attitude.

However, the (seemingly) heavy landing was not a big deal for the X-47B, a UCAS that was developed as a carrier-based unmanned aircraft. As such, the drone is equipped with a reinforced landing gear to withstand (heavy) deck landing impacts.