UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: First-Ever Unmanned Aerial Refueling
Navy Drone Makes History.
Aviation history was made over Chesapeake Bay yesterday (April 21) as the Navy and Northrop Grumman completed the first-ever refueling in flight by an autonomous unmanned aircraft.
Northrop Grumman and the Navy announced the first successful demonstration of aerial refueling by the tailless, bat-shaped X-47B.
We reported last week at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expo that the aircraft, officially known as the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft was expected to test this procedure soon.
It wasn’t the first time the X-47B made history. In 2013 became the first unmanned aircraft to autonomously launch from and recover aboard an aircraft carrier. The X-47B — there are actually two of them — is nearing the end of its program. The Navy is not asking for any additional funding in fiscal 2016.
The next step will be the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program, to introduce an unmanned carrier-based strike fighter into the fleet.
In addition to Northrop Grumman, several other major defense contractors are competing for the contract including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics.
Here’s another photo of the operation.
Entry filed under: Aircraft, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Photos, Technology, Unmanned Aircraft, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: aerospace, aircraft carrier, military aviation, Navy, Northrop Grumman, Topics, UAS, UAV, UCLASS, unmanned aircraft, X-47B carrier-based drone.