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Autonomous High Altitude Refueling AHR test flight from DARPA!

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posted on Oct, 8 2012 @ 06:49 PM
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It's coming! RQ-4A Global Hawk UAV proved for the first time (Bulls$%t!!!!) that a high altitude long endurance HALE class aircraft can safely and autonomously perform the steps required for in-flight refueling. Here's the you tube video of it...

www.youtube.com...

And another:


www.youtube.com...

Darpa's press release....
www.darpa.mil...


Currently global military aviation relies on a key enabler – aerial refueling. Fighters, bombers, reconnaissance and transport aircraft use “flying gas stations” to go the extra mile. Increasingly, UAVs are conducting combat and ISR operations, but UAVs aren’t designed to be refueled in flight. In 2007, DARPA teamed up with NASA to show that high-performance aircraft can easily perform automated refueling from conventional tankers, yet many unmanned aircraft can’t match the speed, altitude and performance of the current tanker fleet. The 2007 demonstration also required a pilot on board to set conditions and monitor safety during autonomous refueling operations. Today DARPA has addressed this capability gap. DARPA’s two-year Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling (AHR) program, which concluded Sep. 30, explored the ability to safely conduct fully autonomous refueling of UAVs in challenging high-altitude flight conditions. During its final test flight, two modified Global Hawk aircraft flew in close formation, 100 feet or less between refueling probe and receiver drogue, for the majority of a 2.5-hour engagement at 44,800 feet. This demonstrated for the first time that High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) class aircraft can safely and autonomously operate under in-flight refueling conditions. The flight was the ninth test and the first time the aircraft flew close enough to measure the full aerodynamic and control interactions. Flight data was analyzed over the past few months and fed back into simulations to verify system safety and performance through contact and fuel transfer–including the effects of turns and gusts up to 20 knots.


Weve been practicing refueling UAV's since 2006, but never the global hawk. Usually the UCAV and the new navy plane. Also, I guess since it's out now, the RQ-170 as well. But at 45,000 feet, no tanker will fly that high to conduct air refueling with a UAV. But it's coming folks. I bet the boys at Boeing are wishing that they put a boom pod on the new KC-46 instead of cameras!

Exciting day for boom operators who can finally share more information with the public about what we've been refueling! We will all miss the boom pod though!




posted on Oct, 8 2012 @ 07:51 PM
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Yes, tell us. What exactly have you been refueling that we probably are not aware of. UAV's are new to me, but is there anything real exotic? Is there real highly classified craft that you still can't talk about that you guys refuel?

I saw the F-22's and F-35's refueling over Nellis that someone posted video of here that was real cool.



posted on Oct, 8 2012 @ 07:54 PM
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reply to post by boomer135
 


The "first" here is that it is one UAV, refueling another.



posted on Oct, 8 2012 @ 10:23 PM
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Originally posted by _Del_
reply to post by boomer135
 


The "first" here is that it is one UAV, refueling another.


You are correct on that. We don't refuel at that altitude on KC-135's. They were just doing some precontact and "breakaway" procedures with the Global Hawk. But UAV refuelings are nothing new to us...just not the global hawk.



posted on Oct, 8 2012 @ 11:06 PM
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Originally posted by spirit_horse
Yes, tell us. What exactly have you been refueling that we probably are not aware of. UAV's are new to me, but is there anything real exotic? Is there real highly classified craft that you still can't talk about that you guys refuel?

I saw the F-22's and F-35's refueling over Nellis that someone posted video of here that was real cool.



The day might be coming shortly where I can share some information, but a quick google search turned up nothing on other aircraft. I will tell you that we have been refueling UAV's for a while now. At least seven or eight years ago, we were refueling the RQ-170. I personally messed around with the UCAV in 2006, conducting air refueling tests with the drone. They would come up to precontact and stabilize there (about 50 feet behind the boom). We never made contact with them due to a lack of a receptacle, but the knowledge that they learned from these flights led to pretty good UAV systems that can be very close to other aircraft.

The real exotic and highly classified aircraft I have no comment on at the moment. But with DARPA releasing this information, it's only a matter of time before I come across something posted on the internet that I'll be able to talk about. As for now, can't do it. I may have been out of the military for six years, but I still have a loyalty to my country and I don't really want to go to jail.

As for the F-22, our primary mission when TDY to Edwards was for F-22 flight development and testing support. We took off right after they did and landed when they were done. They got all the gas they needed on the mission, which usually lasted three hours or so. And of course we had unexpected guest like the Grey F-117's from skunkworks who want gas from time to time, as well as some "unique" aircraft that someone eluded to the need of security on board the jet.

As for the F-35's, the Air Force is correct when it came to refueling them for the first time, I think it was around 2009-2010 or something like that, officially. However, we've refueled the X-35 numerous times while deployed to Edwards AFB. Really not much changed between the X-35 and the F-35 so technically we were refueling the X-35 starting around 2000. So 12 years later, were still doing test flights and night air refueling with this JSF. In those 12 years, imagine what has came out in the mean time. If the F-35 is based on 80's and 90's technology, just imagine what we are refueling up there right now...Remember we still have "T" models in the United States inventory to separate different fuels onboard the KC-135. Think about that for a second...

(if you happen to be in the kansas city area, hit me up on the messenger. I may or may not have pics to show a few individuals)



posted on Oct, 8 2012 @ 11:14 PM
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Originally posted by _Del_
reply to post by boomer135
 


The "first" here is that it is one UAV, refueling another.
Amazing.Now we just have to build a maintenance robot to repair them and they won't need us anymore!





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