Northrop-Grumman to Continue Work On the X-47B


Released on Thursday, August 19, 2004
United States of America
X-47B
DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
J-UCAS - Joint Unmanned Combat Air System
kg - kilograms
km - kilometre
SAR - Search and Rescue
SAR - Synthetic Aperture Radar
SEAD - Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses
On August 18, 2004, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Northrop-Grumman a $1.04 billion other transaction for prototypes agreement to continue work on the X-47B Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) demonstration program.

The agreement funds the work to be done on the X-47B technology demonstrator over the next five years. Under the terms of the new agreement Northrop-Grumman will design, develop and demonstrate a minimum of three full-scale, flight-worthy air vehicles and three mission control systems.

Each X-47B system produced under this effort will include integrated sensors, communication, navigation equipment and low observability features, along with a common operating system to meet the mission requirements established by the US Air Force and US Navy. The target missions encompasses suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), penetrating surveillance in denied enemy airspace, and precision strike all operating whether from land or aircraft carrier bases.

The J-UCAS program objective at this point is to achieve an air vehicle with a 1,500 nautical miles (2,778 km) combat radius carrying a weapons payload of 4,500 pounds (2,000 kg), electronic warning system and an integrated synthetic aperture radar (SAR). To do so, these air vehicles will be capable of surviving in a high-threat environment while connected to a global network via beyond line-of-sight communications.

Other characteristics of the X-47B/J-UCAS air combat vehicle are a large internal weapons bay, well suited to support the full spectrum of existing and future military operations, open and modular architecture facilitating future growth, very stealthy airframe, and aerial refueling to provide persistent coverage deep into enemy battlespace.

This effort will culminate in operational experimentation and an assessment that will explore the X-47B capabilities in realistic mission scenario. The flight demonstration phase will begin in 2007 at a West Coast site followed by catapult launches and arrested landings planned to occur at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Maryland. Lockheed-Martin and Pratt & Whitney are part of the Northrop-Grumman team.

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