Unmanned X-47B aircraft completes first autonomous aerial refueling with Honeywell navigation
PHOENIX, 23 April 2015. Honeywell Aerospace (NYSE:HON), together with Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy, advanced the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) program by achieving the first unmanned autonomous midair refueling.
This landmark refueling 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.
Honeywell is a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy for the UCAS-D program. The X-47B is outfitted with several Honeywell technologies, including the environmental control system (ECS), auxiliary power generation system (APGS), and H-764 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (EGI).
The ECS helps control the temperature of all critical onboard avionics and electronics. The APGS provides pneumatic power to start the engine and backup power for all electrical systems. The EGIs on 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 enables 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,” according to company officials.
“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,” says 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.”
Honeywell Aerospace products and services are found on virtually every commercial, defense and space aircraft, and its turbochargers are used by nearly every automaker and truck manufacturer around the world. The Aerospace business unit develops innovative solutions for more fuel-efficient automobiles and airplanes, more direct and on-time flights, safer flying and runway traffic, along with aircraft engines, cockpit and cabin electronics, wireless connectivity services, logistics, and more.