X47B Unmanned Fighter Drone Makes First Landing on US Navy Aircraft Carrier

August 6, 2013

The unmanned prototype launched from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, performed a 35-minute flight and then landed on the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia. The aircraft successfully performed a maneuver known as “arrested landing,” which involved catching a wire on board the ship with a deployed tail hook, bringing the aircraft to a quick stop. The task is considered to be one of the most challenging for a human pilot, due to constant movement of the ship and the turbulent air around it. The procedure was performed exclusively by the drone’s built-in computer program.

Honeywell provides navigation and power generation technologies for the X-47B including the enhanced GPS/INS (EGI), environmental control system, air turbine starter and the auxiliary power generating system. The hardware is manufactured in Torrance, Calif., Clearwater, Fla., Phoenix, Ariz., and Tempe, Ariz.

“Since the X-47B program began in 2007, Honeywell has been a proud member of the joint industry team,” says Christine Milford, Director of Business Development, Honeywell Aerospace. “We are pleased to have played a part in this historic technical achievement.”

What sets the X-47B apart from most of today's combat drones is that it is stealthy and jet-powered. The aircraft has a 62-foot wingspan and can fly higher than 40,000 feet. It has a range of more than 2,400 miles and can reach high subsonic speeds.