It’s called the X-47B, the Navy’s carrier-launched drone or unmanned combat air vehicle. The tail-less, jet-powered drone which first flew in 2011 is a demonstrator that has successfully taken off from and landed on the deck of several aircraft carriers, including the USS George H.W. Bush. And now, the X-47B has just passed another milestone — a major step in proving this could be the battlefield-ready aircraft that never has to land.
Defensetech reports that the Navy has conducted the first successful aerial refueling of the X-47B off the coast of Maryland. This mid-air refueling is another critical achievement in proving the drone’s operational capability.
“The Navy launched and landed the X-47B in rapid succession with an F/A-18 fighter jet as part of a series of joint manned and unmanned flight tests aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in August of last year off the coast of Norfolk, Va., service officials said.”
Advertisement - story continues below
By clicking on the video above, you can watch the impressive refueling operation as it occurred this week — part of the Pentagon’s rigorous testing to make sure the new pilot-less fighter can integrate into a joint combat environment.