Business

October 9, 2012

Two Global Hawks fly in close formation, move AHR program closer to autonomous aerial refueling

Northrop Grumman, DARPA and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center successfully completed a series of flight demonstrations, moving the DARPA’s Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling program closer to demonstrating the first autonomous aerial refueling between two unmanned, high-altitude aircraft. The flights, which used two NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft – one configured as a tanker and the other as a receiver – were conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Northrop Grumman, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center have successfully completed a series of flight demonstrations, moving DARPA’s Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling program closer to demonstrating the first autonomous aerial refueling between two unmanned, high-altitude aircraft.

The flights, which used two NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft ñ one configured as a tanker and the other as a receiver ñ were conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

During the flights, which spanned Jan. 11 to May 30, the AHR team achieved many milestones, including:

  • The lead receiver aircraft extended and retracted its aerial refueling hose several times, completing all planned tests to validate the associated program hardware and software.
  • The trail tanker aircraft successfully demonstrated precision control in formation with manual and automated “breakaway” maneuvers ñ important safety features and criteria of the test program.
  • Two Global Hawk unmanned aircraft successfully flew for the first time in close formation ñ as close as 30 feet.
  • During the close-formation flight, the aircraft rendezvoused and flew for more than 2.5 hours under autonomous formation control, with the majority of the time within 100 ft (or one wingspan) of each other.

“The technical developments that enabled these two high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned Global Hawks in close formation is an outstanding accomplishment for the AHR program,” said Fred Ricker, vice president and deputy general manager for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ Advanced Programs & Technology. “Coupled with the advanced design and technical implementation of aerial refueling systems on board both aircraft, the demonstration has truly brought a concept to life, which has the potential to change the operations for unmanned aircraft utility and enable mission flexibility never before realized.”

Northrop Grumman and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center conducted several demonstration flights in the buildup to the close formation flight, which included tanker and receiver first flights and a distant formation flight. The Northrop Grumman-NASA-DARPA team worked closely to ensure that all safety precautions and measures were taken when preparing for and conducting all of the ground and flight demonstrations. Preparation included a calculated approach to ground and flight tests, which included extensive analysis, simulations, laboratory and ground tests as well as multiple safety review boards.

The $33 million DARPA AHR program aims to demonstrate autonomous fuel transfer between two Global Hawks, enabling flights of up to one week endurance. AHR is a follow-on to a 2006 DARPA Autonomous Aerial Refueling Demonstration, a joint effort with NASA Dryden that used an F/A-18 Hornet as a surrogate unmanned aircraft to autonomously refuel via a probe and drogue from a 707 tanker.

As part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program, Northrop Grumman is also developing AAR technology to help extend the operating range and flight duration of future carrier-based unmanned systems. The company plans to conduct AAR demonstrations in 2014 using the Navy’s X-47B unmanned demonstrator aircraft.

In partnership with NASA in the Space Act Agreement, Northrop Grumman supports the operations and maintenance of the two Global Hawks used in the AHR program and is responsible for all engineering design, as well as modification of both aircraft.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 17, 2015

News: Army extends benefits to Hood shooting victims - The Army will provide “all possible benefits” to victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting who recently were awarded the Purple Heart, the service announced April 16.   Business: Rolls-Royce lands biggest deal in its 109-year history - U.K. engineering company Rolls-Royce has won the largest order in...
 
 

News Briefs April 17, 2015

Army orders financial benefits for 2009 Fort Hood victims Dozens of soldiers and surviving family members of the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting are receiving additional Army pay that they felt was long overdue. The announcement from Army Sec. John McHugh April 16 comes a week after 36 Purple Hearts were awarded to victims and...
 
 
NASA illustration

NASA awards radiation challenge winners, launches next round

NASA illustration This illustration depicts our heliosphere, showing the approximate locations of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. Galactic cosmic rays originate outside the heliosphere and stream in uniformly from all direc...
 

 

U.S. Air Force completes operational testing on Raytheon’s MALD-J

Raytheon and the U.S. Air Force successfully completed operational tests of Miniature Air Launched Decoy-Jammer, satisfying all requirements to attain Initial Operational Capability. “MALD-J’s unique capabilities have been proven in 42 successful flight tests during the last two years and brought us closer to full rate production,” said Mike Jarrett, vice president of Raytheon...
 
 

Northrop Grumman to expand North Dakota presence

In partnership with local leadership, Northrop Grumman confirmed its dedication to the future of unmanned systems development in the Red River Valley region by signing a lease agreement to anchor the new Grand Sky Technology Park in Grand Forks County. Northrop Grumman is working to identify specialized opportunities for the Grand Sky facility. The opportunities,...
 
 

Raytheon awarded more than $2 billion for an International Patriot system

Raytheon announced April 17 it has been awarded a contract worth over $2.0 billion to deliver the combat-proven Patriot Air and Missile Defense System to an undisclosed international customer. The contract, awarded April 2, 2015, and booked in the second quarter as a direct commercial sale, includes fully digitized new-production Patriot fire units with the...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>