X-47B UCAS Makes Aviation History…Again!

Successfully Completes First Ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling Demonstration.

Program Overview

The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) Carrier Demonstration program. Under a contract awarded in 2007, the company designed, produced and is currently flight testing two X-47B aircraft. In 2013, these aircraft were used to demonstrate the first-ever carrier-based launches and recoveries by a relevant, low-observable, unmanned autonomous aircraft.

In April 2015, the X-47B once again made aviation history by successfully conducting the first-ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) of an unmanned aircraft. AAR unlocks the full potential of what unmanned surveillance, strike and reconnaissance systems can do in support of the Navy. These historic demonstrations solidify the concept of future unmanned aircraft and prove that the X-47B can perform standard missions — like aerial refueling — and operate seamlessly with manned aircraft as part of the Carrier Air Wing.

Foundation for the Future

The X-47B UCAS is designed to help the Navy explore the future of unmanned carrier aviation. The successful flight test program is setting the stage for the development of a more permanent, carrier-based fleet of unmanned aircraft.

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