[ RadSafe ] Navy completes 1st unmanned carrier landing, Brock Vergakis, 10 Jul 2013
JPreisig at aol.com
JPreisig at aol.com
Wed Jul 10 23:14:46 CDT 2013
The name of one guidance system used in helping "usual" plane
landings on aircraft carriers is called
CAINS (Carrier Aided Inertial Navigation System). The system is
engineered by Kearfott Inc. Don't know if more information is available about it.
It consists of at least two Ring Laser Gyro Inertial Navigation Systems
(and associated accelerometers). One RLG is on each aircraft and one RLG is
on the Aircraft Carrier.
I suspect the system also involves GPS, radar, a Kalman Filter and so on.
Regards, Joe Preisig
In a message dated 7/10/2013 8:38:58 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
maurysis at peoplepc.com writes:
In the fall of 1960 I helped design the on-board operators console and
procedures for the AN/SPN-10 ACLS [Automatic Carrier Landing System] for the
US Navy. Even that long ago we had the capability of hands-off carrier
landings all the way to touchdown and rollout. Then the pilot had to fly the
aircraft to a "window" where the data link with the carrier could lock on
and complete the rest of the approach and landing.. Now we can apparently
launch and recover unmanned aircraft with these systems.
Navy completes 1st unmanned carrier landing
Wed, 10 Jul 2013 17:21:04 -0500
ABOARD THE USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (AP) — The Navy successfully landed a
drone the size of a fighter jet aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time
Wednesday, showcasing the military's capability to have a computer program
perform one of the most difficult tasks that a pilot is asked to do.
The landing of the X-47B experimental aircraft means the Navy can move
forward with its plans to develop another unmanned aircraft that will join the
fleet alongside traditional airplanes to provide around-the-clock
surveillance while also possessing a strike capability. It also would pave the way
for the U.S. to launch unmanned aircraft without the need to obtain
permission from other countries to use their bases.
"It is not often that you get a chance to see the future, but that's what
we got to do today. This is an amazing day for aviation in general and for
naval aviation in particular," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said after watching
The X-47B experimental aircraft took off from Naval Air Station Patuxent
River in Maryland before approaching the USS George H.W. Bush, which was
operating about 70 miles off the coast of Virginia. The tail-less drone landed
by deploying a hook that caught a wire aboard the ship and brought it to a
quick stop, just like normal fighter jets do. The maneuver is known as an
arrested landing and had previously only been done by the drone on land at
Patuxent River. Landing on a ship that is constantly moving while
navigating through turbulent air behind the aircraft carrier is seen as a more
difficult maneuver, even on a clear day with low winds like Wednesday.
Rear Adm. Mat Winter, the Navy's program executive officer for unmanned
aviation and strike weapons, said everything about the flight — including
where on the flight deck the plane would first touch and how many feet its
hook would bounce — appeared to go exactly as planned.
"This is a historic day. This is a banner day. This is a red-flag letter
day," Winter said. "You can call it what you want, but the fact of the
matter is that you just observed history — history that your
great-grandchildren, my great grandchildren, everybody's great grandchildren are going to be
reading in our history books."
Less than an hour after that first landing, the jet took off from the
carrier and then landed again. The Navy said it would perform three total
landings on Wednesday. The Navy will do some additional tests and analysis on
the jet, and possibly some more landings in the next few days if the
carrier's schedule allows for it , but the first landing was the last major
benchmark for the program to hit.
The X-47B will never be put into operational use, but it will help Navy
officials develop future carrier-based drones. Those drones could begin
operating by 2020, according to Winter. Four companies are expected to compete
for a contract to design the future unmanned aircraft, which will be awarded
in fiscal year 2014.
The two experimental aircraft that have been built for the first round of
testing will be retired and placed in museums at Patuxent River and at
Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.
The move to expand the capabilities of the nation's drones comes amid
growing criticism of America's use of Predators and Reapers to gather
intelligence and carry out lethal missile attacks against terrorists in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Critics in the U.S. and abroad have charged that drone strikes cause
widespread civilian deaths and are conducted with inadequate oversight. Still,
defense analysts say drones are the future of warfare.
The X-47B is far bigger than the Predator, has three times the range and
can be programmed to carry out missions with no human intervention, the Navy
While the X-47B isn't a stealth aircraft, it was designed with the low
profile of one. That will help in the development of future stealth drones,
which would be valuable as the military changes its focus from the Middle
East to the Pacific, where a number of countries' air defenses are a lot
stronger than Afghanistan's.
The X-47B has a wingspan of about 62 feet and weighs 14,000 pounds, versus
nearly 49 feet and about 1,100 pounds for the Predator.
While Predators are typically piloted via remote control by someone in the
U.S., the X-47B relies only on computer programs to tell it where to fly
unless a human operator needs to step in. The Navy says the aircraft relies
on precision GPS navigation, a high-integrity network connection and
advanced flight control software to guide itself.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert called the landing a
"miraculous technological feat."
Developed by Northrop Grumman under a 2007 contract at a cost of $1.4
billion, the X-47B is capable of carrying weapons and is designed to be the
forerunner for a drone program that will provide around-the-clock
intelligence, surveillance and targeting, according to the Navy, which has been giving
updates on the project over the past few years.
The X-47B can reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet and has a range
of more than 2,100 nautical miles, versus 675 for the Predator. The Navy
plans to show the drone can be refueled in flight, which would give it even
"It gives us persistence. It gives us the ability to do things that we
can't today because of the limitations on the human body in terms of
endurance, in terms of distance, in terms of just how long you can stay on station
or do the things like refueling," Mabus said. "We're not sending this
message to any particular country. This is for us. This is to make sure that we
keep the technological edge."
Brock Vergakis can be reached at http://twitter.com/BrockVergakis.
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