Wednesday, March 9, 2011

UAV refueling inches closer

A program to show the ability of one unmanned aircraft to refuel another inched forward when a Global Hawk and Proteus flew within 40 feet of one another in late January. A manned Scaled Composites Proteus test aircraft, owned by Northrop Grumman, and a Northrop Grumman-built unmanned Global Hawk owned by NASA flew at 45,000 feet. Wake turbulence between the two aircraft as well as engine performance and flight control responsiveness in the stratosphere were evaluated. Simulated breakaway maneuvers were also conducted. The flight is key to reducing risks as the program prepares for autonomous aerial refueling of two Global Hawks in the spring of 2012. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 03/09/11) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are now built in part in Moss Point, Miss.