Northrop Grumman Corporation's X-47A Pegasus team has completed another milestone on the road to first flight with the successful autonomous start and shutdown of the experimental unmanned aircraft's engine.
With a click of a computer mouse, the air vehicle operator executed a command from inside the test control center at the Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems facility here, which allowed the X-47A to autonomously sequence through the engine start series and come to idle.
Test team engineers then confirmed subsystems and engine performance.
Once satisfied that all systems were working as planned, the operator initiated an autonomous shutdown of the Pratt & Whitney JT15D engine.
This sequence was repeated several times. According to Dave Mazur, Pegasus program manager, the X-47A performed flawlessly during the April 18 test.
Pegasus was built with company funds to demonstrate aerodynamic qualities suitable for autonomous operation from an aircraft carrier.
The results will be used in Northrop Grumman's naval Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV-N) program for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Navy. First flight of the X-47A is expected later this year.
The goal of the joint DARPA/Navy UCAV-N project is to demonstrate the technical feasibility for an unmanned system to effectively and affordably conduct sea-based surveillance, strike and suppression of enemy air defenses missions within the emerging global command and control architecture.
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Dassault, Sagem Announce Plan To Develop Tactical Drones
Paris (AFP) April 17, 2002
The French aerospace group Dassault Aviation and electronics equipment maker Sagem announced Wednesday an agreement to develop pilotless aircraft, or drones, for military use.