X-47B completes world’s first autonomous aerial refueling using Honeywell navigation
Honeywell Aerospace (NYSE: HON), subcontractor of Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy, successfully completed another historic milestone with the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft by accomplishing the first unmanned autonomous midair refueling.
During the test, Honeywell’s navigation systems helped the X-47B find the refueling aircraft, maneuver itself into position for the critical moment, and maintain proper positioning for a safe, efficient refueling. This is the latest in a series of milestones for the X-47B, which was the first unmanned aircraft to launch and land on the same aircraft carrier without any interaction from a pilot or controller.
“As we celebrate this successful X-47B demonstration with our industry partners, Honeywell continues to develop and field new generations of innovative solutions that will advance the science of flight and help our customers accomplish their missions,” said Mike Madsen, President of Defense and Space, Honeywell Aerospace.
“We’re passionate about designing and delivering technology that supports the U.S. Navy’s mission to field the first autonomous combat aircraft capable of operating from an aircraft carrier, to confront and defeat increasingly long-range enemy threats, and to gain and maintain air, space and maritime superiority.”
The X-47B is outfitted with several Honeywell technologies including Honeywell’s H-764 embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation system (EGI). The EGIs on both the aircraft and aircraft carrier provide key inertial navigation sensors, enabling an accurate, autonomous approach for landing on an aircraft carrier or runway, as well as in aerial refueling operations. Honeywell’s EGI performance was critical in enabling the X-47B to be aware of its location in relation to the refueling tanker, maintain its position while refueling, and then safely depart from the aircraft.
Honeywell also provides the environmental control system (ECS) and auxiliary power generation system (APGS) for the X-47B. The ECS helps control the temperature of all critical onboard avionics and electronics, while the APGS provides pneumatic power to start the engine and backup power for all electrical systems.
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NAVAIR Public Release 2015-279
Approved for Public Release, Distribution is Unlimited, 9 April 2015; NG15-0654