VIA| American ingenuity was on full display when a next-generation, carrier-launched, unmanned drone successfully completed a refueling while in flight.
It happened over the Chesapeake Bay area, just off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. The drone, identified as X-47B, was able to extract 4,000 pounds of fuel from an Omega K-707 tanker aircraft, while in midair.
From Navair News:
“During the test, the X-47B exchanged refueling messages with a government-designed Refueling Interface System (RIS) aboard the tanker.
The aircraft autonomously maneuvered its fixed refueling probe into the tanker’s drogue, also known as the basket, the same way a Navy pilot would refuel a manned aircraft.”
The drone has opened new possibilities in aerial warfare, extending the reach and power of U.S. carriers.
More specifically, the X-47B could perpetually stay in the air indefinitely, while only needing to land periodically for routine maintenance.
This unmanned drone will also allow the possibility for longer ranged missions.
The company responsible for the making creating the X-47B, Northrop Grumman, is proud of the drone, and says,
“AAR [Autonomous Aerial Refueling] unlocks the full potential of what an unmanned surveillance, strike and reconnaissance system can do in support of the Navy.
These historical demonstrations solidify the concept of future unmanned aircraft and proved that the X-47B can perform standard missions like aerial refueling and operate seamlessly with manned aircraft as part of the Carrier Air Wing.
The X-47B UCAS [Unmanned Combat Air System] is designed to help the Navy explore the future of unmanned carrier aviation.
The successful flight test program is setting the stage for the development of a more permanent, carrier-based fleet of unmanned aircraft.”
Do you think this technique will change the way in which wars are fought in the future?