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UAV Stealth Plane Gets X Rating

Designed with stealth features and shaped like a kite, the Northrop Grumman-funded technology demonstrator known as Pegasus has received the official "X" designation, X-47A. Built largely with composite materials, one of the first tasks of the Pegasus flight program will be to demonstrate the aerodynamic qualities of an autonomous unmanned air vehicle (UAV) that would allow it to operate from an aircraft carrier, thus reducing the risk for carrier operations.
Le Bourget - June 19, 2001
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector (ISS) has received an 'X' designation for the company's Pegasus demonstration aircraft.

Pegasus will carry the designation X-47A, and a refined Navy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV-N) expected to be designated the X-47B is planned to be built under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA)-Navy UCAV-N program.

The U.S. Air Force establishes 'X' designations given to experimental aviation programs. "Reserved for programs that advance new and challenging aviation concepts, the 'X' designation for Pegasus acknowledges its significance and secures its position in aviation history," said David Mazur, program manager for Pegasus.

Designed with stealth features and shaped like a kite, Pegasus is constructed largely with composite materials. The aircraft measures 27.9 feet long and has a nearly equal wingspan of 27.8 feet.

One of the first tasks of the Pegasus flight program will be to demonstrate acceptable aerodynamic flying qualities suitable for operations from an aircraft carrier. First flight is planned for the fourth quarter of this year at the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, Calif.

Northrop Grumman is performing trade studies, analysis and preliminary design for a UCAV-N under a $12 million contract with DARPA and the U.S. Navy.

The goal of the joint DARPA/Navy project is to demonstrate the technical feasibility for a UCAV system to effectively and affordably conduct sea-based 21st century surveillance, suppression of enemy air defenses, and strike missions within the emerging global command and control architecture.

The UCAV-N is envisioned as a ship-based, "first day of the war" force multiplier that will complement manned systems by building and maintaining a common operational picture; providing targeting for other weapons and weapon systems; taking lethal action against designated fixed or moving targets; and collecting and disseminating post-strike information.

Northrop Grumman's ISS unveiled its design for a company-funded unmanned air vehicle (UAV) in February called Pegasus that will fly later this year to demonstrate emerging technologies emanating from its new Advanced Systems Development Center in El Segundo, Calif. The Pegasus UAV is scheduled for completion this summer.

Northrop Grumman's efforts on Pegasus and UCAV-N are led by ISS's Air Combat Systems business area in El Segundo.

The company's work leverages its systems integration capability as well as advanced technologies derived from years of experience in the design and development of advanced weapons systems such as the B-2 stealth bomber; Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance system; the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System; E-2C airborne early warning command and control aircraft; and a significant portion of the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

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