Tests ordered for UAV aerial refueling

July 2, 2010 at 1:10 PM

SAN DIEGO, July 2 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman has been given a contract to demonstrate aerial refueling of a Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle by a sister aircraft.

The contract for the project to refuel a NASA drone was issued by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the company said Thursday.

Northrop Grumman plans to retrofit two of the high-altitude aircraft for the project. Fuel will be pumped through a hose-and-drogue system and the refueling out will be completely autonomous, it said.

"Demonstrating the refueling of one UAV by another is a historic milestone," said Carl Johnson, vice president, Advanced Concepts for the company's Aerospace Systems. "It adds refueling to the list of capabilities that can be accomplished automatically by Global Hawks; it opens the door to greatly expanded operational utility for UAVs; and, as a side benefit, it promises to increase the safety and reliability of aerial refueling between manned aircraft by reducing pilot workload."

The refueling program is designated KQ-X.

Northrop Grumman said the refueling would take place at a much higher altitude than that of manned aircraft. It would also be the first time UAVs have flown in formation.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
JetBlue first major airline to offer direct New York to Cuba flights
New Zealand military receives medium heavy military trucks
BBC to lay off 1,000 people to make up for $234M in lost revenue