X-47B arrives onboard USS Harry S Truman

X-47B arrives onboard USS Harry S Truman

After extensive tests on land, the 62-foot-span X-47B UAV arrived onboard an aircraft carrier for over-water flights. Check out the details and videos from from the U.S. Navy:

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | X-47B arrives onboard USS Harry S Truman

The Navy hoisted an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator on board USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Nov. 26, in preparation for an unmanned aircraft’s first, carrier-based testing.  A team from the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program office (PMA-268) embarked Truman to conduct tests and demonstrations.

The X-47B, which boasts a wingspan of more than 62 feet (wider than that of an F/A-18 Super Hornet), will demonstrate seamless integration into carrier flight deck operations through various tests. During each demonstration, the X-47B will be controlled remotely via a hand-held control display unit (CDU).

Truman will be the first aircraft carrier in Naval aviation history to host test operations for an unmanned aircraft. Capt. Jaime Engdahl, N-UCAS Program Manager, said the X-47B’s delivery aboard Truman was among the most historic moments in the program’s history. “This is a very important moment for the X-47B,” said Engdahl. “The moment the aircraft set down on Truman’s deck was the moment it officially met the fleet.” Cmdr. Kevin Watkins, N-UCAS’s flight test director, agreed with Engdahl’s sentiment.  “Bringing the X-47B aboard Truman is a big milestone for the program,” said Watkins. “We’ve been testing the aircraft for the last several years and to finally put it on a ship is so exciting. If these tests are successful, they will prove that the future for unmanned aircraft is wide open.”

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | X-47B arrives onboard USS Harry S Truman

Lt. Cmdr. Larry Tarver, Truman’s aircraft handling officer, who helped coordinate the X-47B’s on-load, said his Sailors are eager to participate in the aircraft’s testing.  “It means a lot to our crew to be part of Naval history,” said Tarver. “We have Sailors who received additional training to safely move the X-47B and they are excited to play a part in its testing.”

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | X-47B arrives onboard USS Harry S Truman

While technical challenges are to be expected when introducing the new system to a carrier’s flight deck, Engdahl said he expects the tests to be successful citing strong teamwork between his team and Truman’s crew.  “The support from Truman has been phenomenal and it’s going to continue to take close cooperation between the carrier’s Sailors and the UCAS-D team to make these demonstrations successful,” said Engdahl. “To operate large, unmanned aircraft off of a carrier, from anywhere in the world, will be a key capability for the Navy after these tests are successful.”

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | X-47B arrives onboard USS Harry S Truman

The X-47B test will be conducted over a three week period which will include in-port and underway demonstrations aboard Truman.

Updated: November 28, 2012 — 10:28 AM


  1. That is cool. Reminds me of the movie Stealth.

  2. Never mind what the crew said……what did the pilots think?
    This is right out of the movie Stealth. This is probably the only way that air combat can go with the ultra high G manuvers that combat aircraft will most likely pull. It most certainly is a combat aircraft due to it’s size and configuration. Have to wonder about the cost of this project.

  3. You didn’t say which port the truman is based or where the testing is being conducted

  4. I always felt safer flying on and off the flight deck, then working on it. Now, they want those kids to work the deck with UAV’s. Not for me!!

  5. the future of air combat…. pilots sit in the carrier and operate planes flying hundreds of miles away.

  6. And this is only the beginning

  7. UAVs such as this will not replace fighter aircraft of pilots. Instead they will serve a different mission such as tactical SAR and optical based recon, punching holes in land based defenses (SAM sites) and taking out shoreline anti ship missile complexes & C3 sites. To enable and extend this UAV range and endurance the next UAV will be a USAF tanker, followed by a UAV bomber, a mini B2.

  8. I’ve been an RC enthusiast for years. I am president of our local club here. The only question I have is…….”Where do I sign up?”

  9. If the US doesn’t conduct this advanced work, who will? China is already testing their version of SU-27 on carriers, and thanks to cyber-espionage are probably working on a version of a X-47. Other countries are sure to follow. We need to stay ahead.


  11. Just like DAY said. Knock out a few satelites and this new technology is grounded. There will always be a need for manned aircraft.

  12. Yes, there will always be the need for piloted aircraft, just the way there will always be the need for quill pens, and dray horses.

    All around the world pilotless aircraft are being developed by dozens of nations. Is the future of all aviation.

    Many are autonomous aircraft, they need no pilots nor satellite communications back to a carrier. They are told where to go and what to do, and just get on with it.

    We stopped having men operating elevators for us in hotels and department stores decades ago, after all. This isn’t much more complicated.

  13. After seeing the destruction of War torn areas, I am happy to see “R/C” take over to save a pilots life out there! Yes pilots are still very important…but pilots come in all shapes sizes and control options.

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