Video: X-47B Executes Shore Based Arrested Landing

Naval Air Systems Command posted a video on Sunday of the X-47B’s first shore based arrested landing. It’s one of the initial steps prior to the drone’s first landing aboard an aircraft carrier.

Navy officials plan to award four development contracts this summer for the service’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike program. 

Northrop Grumman built the X-47B as part of the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration program — a precursor to the UCLASS competition. The X-47B completed trials aboard the carrier Harry S. Truman prior to this shore based landing. Navy test officials plan on launching the X-47B from a carrier and then landing it later this year.

Navy leaders hope to develop and have the UCLASS aircraft in the air by 2018 to 2020.

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Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at

    Did the arrestor hook catch the wire after the plane stopped? It looked like it. Eh, just a few little lines of codes that need to be changed. Good job, Northrop Grumman, on the accomplishment!

  • Davis

    Good to see something progressing smoothly unlike the F-35! The X-47B again, does not disappoint!

    • STemplar

      Sad for the F35 that this is probably going to beat it to carrier landings, to say nothing of operational status. The article l read on AOLdefense referred to the X47 as a proto prototype and said the UCLASS would be “larger”. I really look forward to this program’s RFP.

    • R. Bryant

      Ummmm. I see this thing at Pax River all the time, they spend more time in front landing gear than anything else. it kills me how long 5-6 guys can stand to be that close for so many hours.
      then their the X-35 ahh O not talking about that one.

  • Josh

    Amazing to think that only 100 years ago man discovered how to make objects fly and now we are doing this.

  • DTECH Guest

    Huge kudos. Great work, NGC.

  • Brad

    Now they have completed catapult take offs and arrested landings (albeit both land based) AWSOME!! Next step is doing it on the real thing.

  • guest

    If Jihadists hate drones, they can’t be that bad:

    New jihadi magazine appeals for help against drones:

  • Nadnerbus

    This is how you develop an airframe. One main goal, and step by step development until you get there. Not three in one miracle promises and sell the idea before it is even a thing.

  • VF-1

    What’s the LSO job in this case?:
    – give hints to the remote pilot?
    – give hints to the auto-pilot?
    – does he himself pilot it down?

    • John

      Stay out of the way.

      • Brad

        John is right, stay out of the way and make sure the electronic beacon (or whatever it is/ is called) did not fall off the side of the ship.

    • kevin

      no its on a tals or a dgps system so i doubt the pilot will land it

  • TX Chainsaw
  • ewitson

    Can a drone land on a shorter deck because there is no concern for the strain on the pilot? If so, about what is the minimum landing zone compared to the minimum for a human pilot?

  • Thomas Taylor

    Tail hook conventions are going to get really boring.


    I love this new shift in progress. What to go Northrop! Great news, and it isn’t baby steps like, cough LOCKHEED cough.

  • UFGator71

    Now I see the need for the four new aircraft carriers. Warfare is now going robotic. It will be a major deterrent.


      Well, not only that, but (sadly), the Big E, the Nimitz, and some of the first nuke carriers in the USN are getting up in the age. Now, in aircraft, you can pull out the computers and radar, then upgrade the whole thing (F-15). But thats over an airframe thats just 50-60 feet long. A carrier? Over 1,000ft long, and quite wide. Trying to upgrade an entire carrier, keel up, would probably cost about the same as all of the aircraft the carrier carries. So long as the Ford class aren’t held up with too many delays and cost overruns, it will be cheaper. Finally, and most importantly, are the reactors. Its excellent that they can give power to the ship for over 20 years, (more like 25), but it takes years to refuel them. Refuel once or twice in their lifetime; then retire ’em. Make way for new ships.

  • Curt

    Wait, isn’t the maingear to tailhook length too short to land on carriers? We know that the X-47B MG-Tailhook length is less than the F-35C and everyone said that one couldn’t catch the wire.