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Fwd = Unmanned Navy kite debuts

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  • Frits Westra
    Forwarded by: fwestra@hetnet.nl (Frits Westra) URL: http://www.avpress.com/n/tusty1.hts Original Date: 2 Aug 2001 17:56:52 -0000
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2001
      Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
      URL: http://www.avpress.com/n/tusty1.hts
      Original Date: 2 Aug 2001 17:56:52 -0000

      ========================== Forwarded message begins ======================

      Unmanned Navy kite debuts

      Craft first step in new combat air vehicle

      This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press July 31, 2001.
      By ALLISON GATLIN
      Valley Press Staff Writer
      _________________________________________________________________

      MOJAVE - Looking more like a UFO than a military machine, Northrop
      Grumman's Pegasus rolled out on Monday. The one-of-a-kind technology
      demonstrator is the latest entry into the world of unmanned military
      vehicles.

      The kite-shaped vehicle was built in Mojave at Scaled Composites Inc.,
      Northrop Grumman's partner in the project.

      With the experimental designation of X-47A, the futuristic aircraft is
      the first step in the company's development of an unmanned combat air
      vehicle for the U.S. Navy.

      The aircraft presented on Monday will be used to test the aerodynamic
      qualities of the unique design.

      Later versions will further test other components for the final
      production vehicle.

      Pegasus is now headed to Northrop Grumman's El Segundo facility for a
      few months of testing on its systems.

      Flight testing will follow before the end of the year at the China
      Lake Naval Air Warfare Center near Ridgecrest, where researchers plan
      to prove the aircraft's aerodynamic capabilities and its ability to
      land precisely at the same spot over and over again - a necessity for
      carrier landings.

      That will be the biggest test for the Pegasus, "unchartered territory"
      for unmanned vehicles, said Chris Hernandez, Northrop Grumman vice
      president.

      "The ability to hit the same spot on the ground (repeatedly) is a very
      difficult thing to do," said Steve True, Northrop's systems test team
      leader.

      It is only with the recent development of more sophisticated and
      accurate navigation systems that unmanned carrier landings have even
      been thought possible, he said.

      Although Pegasus' flight tests will be land-locked, the production
      version of the Navy's UCAV will be completely carrier-based.

      Integrating the unmanned vehicle into the chaotic - but carefully
      orchestrated - atmosphere of the carrier deck is "a very significant
      challenge," True said.

      The program has scheduled 12 days of flight testing spread over
      approximately three months at China Lake, with about three to nine
      flights each day.

      Program officials hope to complete about 40 flights.

      The Pegasus prototype took just over a year to build.

      Program officials attribute the short development time to the fact
      that the aircraft uses primarily off-the-shelf components and existing
      technologies, just in a new configuration.

      "This is an extension of work we've been doing for the government for
      years," Hernandez said.

      The Navy is looking for three primary missions for its UCAV:
      suppression of enemy air defenses, strike abilities and surveillance
      capabilities.

      Northrop Grumman and The Boeing Co. are the two companies bidding for
      the construction contract.
      _________________________________________________________________

      � 2001 Antelope Valley Press, Palmdale, California, USA (661) 273-2700

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