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!

    • Observer

      Arrested the wire on touchdown.
      Once stopped, the wire was being rewound partially and stuck in the hook once again.

      Check closely once at touchdown and once at full stop.

    • wpnexp

      Right at the 16 second mark on the video, the tail hook caught the cable. Better get soe new glasses.

  • 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.

      • RunningBear

        Sorry to disappoint but the X in X-47B is experimental, not operational. The Navy is preparing the RFI for the UCLASS. “as the companies anticipate a request for information for the follow-on Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) drone as early as late this year, 2013”. NG, LM and Boeing are in the hunt. :)


          Yeah. Has anyone noticed, though, how similar in shape and looks each of the respective companies’ prototypes share?

      • wpnexp

        This may hook on a carrier sooner, but this is only a technology emonstrator, and is nowhere near being weaponized, much less being placed in squadron service. While much needs to be done with the F-35 before IOC, it has released weapons and the B model has landed on the USS Wasp. The Navy has slowed the testing on the F-35C model (giving it the lowest priority of the three variants). Haven’t heard much on the carrier variant lately, but I assume they are testing the new hook as we speak.

    • 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.

    • Rest pal

      It’s nothing compared to Nature. Insects and birds had been flying around probably for tens of thousands of years before human being began to evolve. And they don’t pollute the environment like the stupid human beings do.

      • William_C1

        Get back to me when insects can launch AIM-120s at targets 30 miles away.

        • Bob

          I for one welcome our new insectoid overlords.

        • Rest Pal

          No, you get back to me when you can fly like insects or birds, and become civilized enough not to harbor the urge to kill or pollute the environment, with AIM-120 or other toxic trash.

      • Josh

        A bird or insect flying is about as great of an accomplishment as humans walking. Birds are “made” to fly. It’s completely natural for them.


        Fly swatter anyone?

      • wpnexp

        And God was their design engineer. Pretty hard to match an omnipotent design engineer.

  • 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:…

    • Rest Pal

      Is it possible that they hate drones because they have been killing mostly women, children, and elderly civilians?

      Predator Drone Strikes: 50 Civilians Are Killed For Every 1 Terrorist, and the CIA Only Wants to Up Drone Warfare…

      U.S. Drone Strikes In Yemen Spur Growing Anti-American Sentiment…

      • Steve

        They’re warriors when they attack and civilians when they die… the perfect PR coup.

        Civilians wouldn’t be in any danger at all if Holy Warriors didn’t have a tendency to hid under their beds.

        • Big-Dean

          or to dress in women’s clothing

        • Rest Pal

          That’s just another lame excuse for indiscriminate mass murder of civilians by your morally defunct soldiers, officers and political leaders. Or you are just making things up yourself.

          Your military is on the soil of another country. You have no right in being there. When you invade another country, any citizen of that country has the right to defend his/her country anytime anywhere.

          The logic employed in your post is a variation of pirate’s logic, or thug’s logic.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Man, can we like take your name out into what it really is, Restore Palestine? Anyways, was 9/11 a mass murder?

          • William_C1

            Morally defunct soldiers? You know nothing. Afghanistan had no legitimate government. It was overrun by radicals. The Afghan people should be thankful we don’t use Roman logic and respond to attacks on our soldiers in the harshest means possible.

          • Rest Pal

            What now you’ve been living in Afghanistan? Or are you just repeating the propaganda from the media?

            Please practice what your preach. If you ever get robbed and tortured at gun point, please be sure to thank the thugs afterward.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            So you are going to deny the existence of the Taliban on the Afghani/ Paki border? Taliban have killed people from all walks of life, from Americans to Middle Easterners.

          • William_C1

            Because our soldiers are robbing and torturing… oh wait, that’s the Taliban.

            Look at the place, it’s a third world hellhole filled with savages.

          • wpnexp

            Of course we have no right to be on another countries soil, unless we are asked to be there, which is the case most of the time. But, then again, make us leave. You say any citizen has a right to defend his/her country anytime and anywhere… and what was your argument for us killing civilians again? Seems like all you people are the enemy anyways, according to your logic.

          • Rest Pal

            The people of Iraq never asked you to go there. You illegally invaded Iraq under the false pretense of WMDs and then set up a corrupt puppet government. Same M.O. in Afghanistan. Same attempt at Venezuela plus plots to overturn and kill Hugo Chavez.

            Now the military industrial complex and Wall St. are scheming about invading and occupying Iran (followed by theft of gas and oil in broad daylight).

            No well-informed and educated person in his right mind will want the filthy bloody boots of Americans on his soil. You can take it to the bank.

          • Free America

            Saddam was a mass murdering tyrant who did in fact have WMD’s and had used them on his own people. Al-Anfal Campaign. Every time you post something your credibility drops because you repeat your middle eastern propaganda. THe US does not need to steal oil, we pay for it. We also have the largest oil reserves on the planet. The people who planned and trained for the attack on 9/11 were known to be in Afghanistan. Why dont you plan and carry out an attack so we can have a reason to rid you of this world you disgusting maggot.


        “Anti-American sentiment” has been spread around by people like you. Hardly surprising.

      • wpnexp

        Guess the terrorist should not hang out with family members if they don’t want them killed. Of course, primary author and researcher was Chantal Grut, with
        contributions by Maureen Shah, Columbia Law School. No bias there I’m sure. Please, if you pick sources like these, you might as well get quotes from the Taliban.

  • 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.

    • blight_

      Makes you wonder if they should’ve bought something only moderately advanced from the demonstrators instead of trying to sock all the end customers to pay for development of technology they might not even get access to as export customers.

  • 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?

    • Brad

      As far as I know it is a similiar tailhook. As for now that is the “weak point” in the entire set up. We wouldn’t want to jar the sensitive electronics inside the plane anymore than the pilot.

  • Thomas Taylor

    Tail hook conventions are going to get really boring.

    • wpnexp

      Until the drones start grabbing at mechanical parts on the fuel trucks and dry humping the generator trucks. Then the higher up computer brass will really get mad.


    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.

  • Cecelia H. Hatfield