Menu
US drone completes first in-flight refuelling

US drone completes first in-flight refuelling

X-47B test leads to future Navy drone program

The U.S. Navy's unmanned X-47B receives fuel from an Omega K-707 tanker while operating in the Atlantic Test Ranges over the Chesapeake Bay. This test marked the first time an unmanned aircraft refueled in flight

The U.S. Navy's unmanned X-47B receives fuel from an Omega K-707 tanker while operating in the Atlantic Test Ranges over the Chesapeake Bay. This test marked the first time an unmanned aircraft refueled in flight

The US military has successfully demonstrated what it says is the first ever in-flight refuelling of an unmanned aircraft, and in doing so completed a flight test program that leads to a new generation of military drones due to take flight in the 2020s.

The refueling was conducted on April 22 in the Atlantic Test Range, off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. There, an X-47B autonomous aircraft automatically maneuvered itself to mate with the refueling probe trailing a K-707 tanker aircraft and receive over 4000 pounds of fuel, the U.S. Navy said.

(See video of the refueling on IDG.TV)

The X-47B is an experimental drone built by Northrop Grumman as part of the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System demonstration program and it has been flying since 2011. During its testing, it has performed others firsts such as a catapult launch from an aircraft carrier and a landing.

It has served as a testbed for technologies that will be incorporated into UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike), an unmanned drone program the Navy is developing for use from aircraft carriers.

Inflight refuelling allows aircraft, both manned and unmanned, to considerably extend how long they can stay in the sky. The X-47B has a range of 2000 nautical miles, but that is on the low side compared to production drones in use by the US military. The RQ-4 Global Hawk, also built by Northrop Grumman, has a range of over 8000 miles.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags roboticsU.S. NavyNorthrop Grumman

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2018 inductees - Chris Simpson, Kendra Ross and Phill Patton - to the third running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing landscape of the technology industry in New Zealand, while outlining ways to attract a new breed of players to the ecosystem. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch
Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

The channel came together for the inaugural Reseller News Emerging Leaders Forum in New Zealand, created to provide a program that identifies, educates and showcases the upcoming talent of the ICT industry. Hosted as a half day event, attendees heard from industry champions as keynoters and panelists talked about future opportunities and leadership paths and joined mentoring sessions with members of the ICT industry Hall of Fame. The forum concluded with 30 Under 30 Tech Awards across areas of Sales, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Management, Technical and Human Resources. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019
Show Comments