Unmanned jet could land on carrier within 2 years

Researchers are analyzing data from the first “hands-off” live-fly operations around an aircraft carrier–information that could lead to a specially modified F/A-18F Super Hornet landing on a ship without a pilot touching the controls in as little as two years.

A pair of Boeing test pilots just completed a series of unannounced landing approaches and waveoffs with the USS Harry S. Truman operating near Norfolk, Va., on May 17-18. They closed to within 420 ft. of the carrier before conducting a ship-controlled waveoff.

The test aircraft–the first two-seat F/A-18F built–has been reconfigured as a surrogate unmanned combat air system (UCAS). The project parallels the company’s effort to design a demonstrator for the Navy’s UCAS-D competition. However, company officials contend the demonstration wasn’t designed specifically for the competition or for Boeing’s new X-45N design.

Source:  Aviation Week

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