Northrop Grumman X-47B UCAS


The Northrop Grumman X-47B UCAS is a demonstration Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle. The X-47B will become the first tailless, autonomous strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft to launch from and land on an aircraft carrier.

Developing nation: USA.
Northrop Grumman.
Number built: 2.
Type aircraft: Demonstration Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle.
First flight: 4 February 2011.
State: in service.

Under a contract awarded in 2007, as part of DARPA’s J-UCAS program. Northrop Grumman has designed, developed and is currently producing two X-47B aircraft. In the 2013 timeframe, these aircraft will be used to demonstrate the first carrier-based launches and recoveries by an autonomous, low-observable relevant unmanned aircraft. The UCAS-D program will also be used to mature relevant carrier landing and integration technologies, and to demonstrate autonomous aerial refueling by the X-47B aircraft.

On 4 February 2011 the first flight took off from Edwards AFB at 2:09 p.m. PST and lasted 29 minutes. This event marks a critical step in the program, moving the team forward to meet the demonstration objectives of a tailless fighter-sized unmanned aircraft to safely take off from and land on the deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

The X-47B aircraft will remain at Edwards AFB for flight envelope expansion before transitioning to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. later this year. There, the system will undergo additional tests to validate its readiness to begin testing in the maritime and carrier environment.

General characteristics

  • Crew: none aboard
  • Length: 11.63 m (38.2 ft)
  • Wingspan: 18.92 m (62.1 ft , 30.9 ft folded)
  • Height: 3.10 m (10.4 ft)
  • Empty weight: 6,350.29 kg (14,000 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 20,215 kg (44,567 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney F100-220U turbofan


  • Maximum speed: “high subsonic”
  • Cruise speed: 0.45 mach
  • Range: 3,889+ km (2,100+ NM)
  • Service ceiling: 12,190 m (40,000 ft)


  • 2 × GBU-31 JDAM (905 kg each)(2000 lb)



All pictures courtesy of Northop Grumman.