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Navy to Conduct First Aerial Refueling of X-47B Carrier Drone

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The Navy plans to perform an aerial refueling for the first time on its carrier-launched demonstrator drone aircraft, the X-47B, within the next few weeks, service officials said.

The refueling, to take place at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., will have the X-47B link up with an Omega air refueling tanker, Navy officials told Military.com. Omega is a contractor that works with the Defense Department.

The X-47B made history when it flew from a carrier in May and November of 2013 and is now working on streamlining carrier deck operations and maneuvers with manned aircraft.

The Navy has launched and landed a carrier-based drone in rapid succession with an F/A-18 fighter jet as part of a series of joint manned and unmanned flight tests aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in August of last year off the coast of Norfolk, Va., service officials said.

After an eight minute flight, the X-47B executed an arrested landing, folded its wings and taxied out of the landing area before moving out of the way for an F/A-18 to land, Navy officials said.

Navy engineers worked on some slight modifications to the X-47B aircraft in order to allow it to both land and integrate in rapid succession with fixed-wing fighter jets.

The refueling will happen as the UCLASS program faces stiff criticism from prominent members of Congress who continue to push for a stealthy, long-endurance, penetrating strike platform.

An ongoing Pentagon intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, review is currently exploring the range of desired capabilities for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Aircraft Surveillance and Strike system, or UCLASS.

The thrust of the examination focuses on how stealthy the new first-of-its kind carrier-launched drone needs to …read more

Read more here:: Defense Tech (Naval)

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