The Northrop Grumman X-47A UCAV was designed with combat capabilities from the start.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The X-47A "Pegasus" stealthy technology demonstrator Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) began as a private venture by defense powerhouse Northrop Grumman. The aircraft was originally a participant in the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program which also included the competing Boeing X-45 demonstrator. The J-UCAS program existed until terminated in 2006. From this work was born the UCAS-D program of the United States Navy (USN), reintroducing the X-47A Pegasus as a spring-board product to the more advanced X-47B carrier-based UCAV.
Design work on the aircraft began after a Navy contract was secured in 2001. Northrop engineers elected for a tailless, diamond-shaped planform lacking vertical surfaces of any kind. The fuselage was blended into the main wing units which sported 55-degree sweep. The engine was buried in a bulge at center with a sliver intake opening above the nose of the aircraft to aspirate the single engine installation. This became a Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5C turbofan engine of 3,190lbs thrust. The X-47A - as it was designated - was given a fully-working, fully-retractable wheeled tricycle undercarriage. An internal bomb bay was integrated into the design but never utilized during testing. Construction included use of composites. The X-47A recorded its first flight on February 23rd, 2003 at China Lake in California.
Dimensions included length of 27.9 feet, a wingspan 27.8 feet and a height of 6 feet. Empty listed weight was 3,835lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 5,900lbs. Known performance specifications included a service ceiling above 40,000 feet and a range in excess of 2,780 kilometers.
No longer in active testing, the X-47A was given up by the USN in favor of the promising X-47B whose program has since completed several well-publicized milestones including launching from, and landing on, a carrier deck (USS George H.W. Bush CVN-77).
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Northrop Grumman X-47A Pegasus production model)
3,836 lb (1,740 kg)
4,850 lb (2,200 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Northrop Grumman X-47A Pegasus production model)
1 x Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5C turbofan engine developing 3,200lbs of thrust.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Northrop Grumman X-47A Pegasus production model)
1,740 miles (2,800 km; 1,512 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Northrop Grumman X-47A Pegasus production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
None - this is a proof of concept technology demonstrator.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Northrop Grumman X-47A Pegasus production model)
X-47A - Initial land-based technology demonstrator UCAV.
X-47B - Navalized X-47A technology demonstrator for possible procurement by US Navy for carrier-based operations.
X-47C - Englarged X-47A with increased weapons load.
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