The US Navy and Northrop Grumman have successfully completed testing of the ship-based X-47B unmanned air vehicle (UAV) software and systems to allow future operation from an aircraft carrier.

The test was conducted on the USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69) aircraft carrier with several successful launches and recoveries of a manned surrogate aircraft equipped with X-47B precision navigation control software in the western Atlantic.

The first test of the hardware and software systems was to ensure safe and successful integration of unmanned systems with all aspects of carrier operations.

The flight tests of X-47B hardware and software were conducted on a King Air Beech 300 aircraft and a surrogate F/A-18 aircraft.

The surrogate testing results will be used to continue to refine the mission management, navigation, guidance and control software that the X-47B will use to perform its first carrier landings in 2013.

The autonomous aerial refuelling demonstrations are planned for 2014.

Northrop is the navy’s prime contractor for the unmanned combat air system carrier demonstration (UCAS-D) programme.