[ 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  landing.

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 
greater range.

"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.
Copyright  2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material 
may not be  published, broadcast, rewritten or  redistributed.

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