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Navy Closer to Unmanned Aircraft Operation on Carriers

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120726-04

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonnie Hobby, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At sea (NNS) -- The Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program conducted a series of unmanned air vehicle (UAV) surrogate recoveries and launches aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), July 18-22.

Sailors assigned to the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 recovered their first UAV-equipped F/A-18D Hornet, containing in-flight software replicating the software installed in the unmanned X-47B, July 18.

"The focus during this at-sea period is to test the hardware inside the Hornet to make sure our unmanned system is able to operate the same way manned aircraft operate aboard a carrier," said Lt. James Reynolds, UCAS-D surrogate project officer from VX 23.

Since the beginning of July, a team of more than 50 Sailors and engineers have performed tests to ensure Truman's on-board UAV software and the UCAS-D surrogate aircraft's software were properly interfacing.

"It takes a lot of people to analyze the data, maintain the system and monitor the tests. If we see anything out of the ordinary, we can correct the issues or learn how to make it better for next time," said Rob Benner, UCAS-D project engineer and test conductor.

The UCAS-D testing had many criteria to meet, including launching the surrogate aircraft from all four catapults and touch-and-go tests, said Benner.

"The ship has been very accommodating in helping us meet our objectives," said Benner. "Everybody has been making our job easier. We couldn't have gathered the data we did without the help of the crew."

Shipboard demonstration and operation procedures are slated to be complete by fiscal year 2013.

Truman is underway conducting carrier qualifications.

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