Tech

October 18, 2012

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

NASA’s two Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, one with a refueling hose trailing behind, fly in close formation during the DARPA-Northrop Grumman UAV-to-UAV aerial refueling demonstration.

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 – one configured as a tanker and the other as a receiver – 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 – important safety features and criteria of the test program.
  • Two Global Hawk unmanned aircraft successfully flew for the first time in close formation – 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 feet (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 August 28, 2014

News: After F-15 jet crash in Virginia, rescue helicopters search for pilot - Helicopters are searching for an Air National Guard pilot after his F-15 jet crashed in the mountains of Virginia this morning, military officials said.   Business: U.S. Air Force 3DELRR contract expected soon - The U.S. Air Force could award the contract for its...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2014

Russian directing new offensive in Ukraine The Obama administration believes Russia is leading a new military counteroffensive in Ukraine. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says Russia has sent additional columns of tanks and armored vehicles into its neighbor’s territory. She says the incursions suggest a ìRussian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in the contested e...
 
 
LM-C5

Double Deuce

A U.S. Air Force crew ferried the 22nd C-5M Super Galaxy from the Lockheed Martin facilities in Marietta, Ga., Aug. 25. Aircraft 86-0011 was ferried by a crew led by Maj. Gen. Dwyer L. Dennis, Director, Global Reach Programs, O...
 

 
Northrop Grumman photograph

First ever RQ-4 Global Hawk hits 100th flight on NASA mission

Northrop Grumman photograph A historical look at the first Global Hawk (AV1) during its maiden flight over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 28, 1998. AV1 has made history again with its 100th flight in support of NASA en...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s CIRCM system completes U.S. Army flight testing

Northrop Grumman’s Common Infrared Countermeasures system recently completed another round of U.S. Army testing by demonstrating its capabilities on a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. The flight test was conducted at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., by the Redstone Test Center. The Northrop Grumman CIRCM system was subjected to rigorous conditions over a six-week period, after...
 
 
NASA photograph by David Olive

NASA completes successful battery of tests on composite cryotank

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qkGI6JeNY0E?enablejsapi=1&rel=0 NASA photograph by David Olive One of the largest composite cryotanks ever built recently completed a battery of tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Cen...
 




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>