This third arrested landing attempt took place only shortly after the X-47B achieved aviation history by conducting the first trap landing of a stealthy, tailless unmanned aircraft on a carrier deck.
That feat took place 10 sec. early, Engdahl says, at 1:39 p.m. and 50 sec. local time. During the first landing, the aircraft caught wire 3 at 124 kt. with a 28 kt. headwind.
After conducing a catapult launch, the aircraft then snagged wire 2 at 118 kt. This second landing is notable because while the tailhook during the first touched down almost exactly where models suggested on the centerline, the second time it did not.
The tailhook actually contacted the deck 9 vertical inches short of the programmed point (which translates to a few horizontal feet because the ship is in motion). But the aircraft still managed to catch the number 2 wire as planned.
While on the Bush, operators conducted the first-ever hot refueling of the X-47B on a deck.
These ship landing trials are the capstone test series for the six-year UCAS effort. The aircraft will be prepared to find a permanent home in naval museums – one in Pensacola, Fla., and one at NAS Patuxent River, Md. – once the flights are concluded, which will likely be next week.
But until the program funding is expended at the end of this year, the Navy will look for options to employ the aircraft, Winter says.