The US Navy proudly confirmed the X-47B unmanned aircraft and Omega K-707 tanker successfully completed an autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) operation. The UAV received more than 4,000 pounds of fuel and was able to communicate with the K-707 to maneuver a fixed refueling probe into the tanker's drogue.
"What we accomplished today demonstrates a significant, groundbreaking step forward for the Navy," said Capt. Beau Duarte, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager for the US Navy. "The ability to autonomously transfer and receive fuel in flight will increase the range and flexibility of future unmanned aircraft platforms, ultimately extending carrier power projection."
It's already challenging enough to have a manned pilot successfully complete aerial refueling operations, but teaching the UAV to do it "creates another layer of complexity." However, the US military has been curious to see if aerial refueling could be done to help refuel UAVs, as more unmanned aircraft are added by the Air Force and Navy.