> our title:

UAV Connects for First Time with Aerial Tanker

> original title:

A Drone Has Never Linked Up with a Tanker Until Now; Historic Milestone Is Another Step Toward Unmanned Fighters (excerpt)

(Source: Medium.com; published April 17, 2015)

The US Naval Air Systems Command has released this photograph of an X-47B making a dry connect with the drogue of K-707 tanker belonging to a civilian contractor, Omega Aerial Refueling Services. (Navair photo)

On April 15 over the Chesapeake Bay, a U.S. Navy drone linked up with an aerial tanker. It’s the first time a drone has ever done that — and it’s a pretty big deal.

The historic milestone is the Navy’s latest step toward total unmanned aviation — a move that could eventually spell the end of naval aviators in the cockpits of their fighters.

During the test flight, the pilotless Northrop Grumman X-47B aircraft connected with an Omega Aerial Refueling Services K-707 tanker. The unmanned drone did not receive any fuel during the experimental flight.

Since 2001, Omega has provided private tanker services during various Navy tests and training exercises, according to the company’s Website. The four-engined K-707 looks like U.S. Air Force’s KC-135s, but uses the probe-and-drogue refueling system the Navy favors.

“The X-47B successfully engages the refueling drogue,” stated the caption of an official Navy photograph posted to the Naval Air Systems Command Facebook page. “Next up: first-ever unmanned aerial refueling. Stay tuned!” (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Medium.com website.