Northrop Grumman has expanded its effort to create powerful unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, for the Navy, adding a second X-47B unmanned aerial vehicle to the flight testing schedule at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The tailless drone, which was designed mostly in the San Diego area, first flew on Nov. 22, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune
The new vehicle, dubbed by Northrop Air Vehicle 2 (AV-2), "took off under hazy skies from Edwards Air Force Base at 12:43 p.m. PST, climbed rapidly to an altitude of 5,000 feet, flew several racetrack patterns over Rogers Dry Lake, then landed safely at 1:12 p.m.," according to a Northrop statement.
"The availability of two test aircraft is particularly important for helping the program maintain a satisfactory flight test rhythm as it begins transitioning X-47B aircraft to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., [Pax River] for shore-based carrier suitability testing,” the statement said. “While one aircraft is being moved to Pax River — expected to occur by the end of 2011 — the other one will continue envelope expansion flight testing at Edwards."
The tailless X-47B unmanned aerial vehicle was designed to operate from aircraft carriers, according to the Union-Tribune.
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