Military Aviation => Air Forces => Topic started by: AVIATOR on July 21, 2009, 12:22:54 AM

Title: UAV extended operational flight
Post by: AVIATOR on July 21, 2009, 12:22:54 AM
Aerial Refuelling For UAVs

July 7, 2009: Three years after the U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency  and NASA successfully tested a robotic in-flight refuelling system, both the air force and navy are now developing systems of their own. Each service uses a different in-flight refuelling system, and both are going to use the automated refuelling systems to ease the workload of the manned aircraft giving, or getting, fuel.
The original  test has an F-18 fighter, modified to operate without a pilot, equipped with new refuelling software and hardware, that was able to successfully refuel in the air. The new air force and navy systems are going to use UAVs (an air force X-45C, and a navy X-47B) to get refuelled. With this capability, a UAV can stay in the air longer, and no longer have to spend several hours returning to base, landing, refuelling, and taking off and returning to its patrol area.



Both services will used manned aircraft, but under control of the automatic refueling software, to test the systems, before using the UAVs. The navy will use an F-18 as a surrogate UAV first. The air force will use a Learjet, then an F-16 as surrogates, before they use the UAV.

X-47 Pegasus


The in-flight refueling is necessary because unmanned, as well as manned, aircraft can carry more weapons if they can refuel during the mission. For UAVs, such refueling enables these aircraft to stay in the air for days at a time. That's what UAVs are built for. Since fighter pilots have to sleep, and their aircraft are not built for round-the-clock missions, UAVs have a major edge.