April 22, Northrop Grumman has managed the first refuelling ever carried out by a drone. The X-47B was able to put his pole in the basket of refuelling from a Boeing 707 operated by Omega Aerial Refueling Services. The drone could receive 4,000 pounds of fuel via the refuelling in service with the US Navy system. A new step in the program X-47 B which has already seen the drone operate from aircraft carriers. Technology now gained for the U.S. Navy and its future ucav UCLASS.
It is above the Chesapeake Bay test polygon over the Atlantic that the X-47B managed its first in-flight refueling. The story does not say how many attempts have been necessary for the drone in order to succeed this in-flight refueling. The K-Omega 707 tanker aircraft could deliver 4,000 pounds of fuel. Officially, the maneuver was conducted via its algorithms and not by a takeover by the operator of refuelling. According to Barbara Weathers, the Manager of the program X-47B in Northrop Grumman “We used the same process and command/control navigation than those which were used during the landings on aircraft carriers.” Algorithms which will be installed in the future ucav of the Navy, the UCLASS (for Unmanned Carrier – Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike) which will equip the U.S. carrier theoretically to 2023.
Source : “X-47B First to Complete Autonomous Aerial Refueling”, US Navy release, April 22, 2015