The X-47B Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) developed by Northrop Grumman is about to attempt to conduct a mid-air refueling, a process through which fuel is transferred from a tanker aircraft to the robotic aircraft. If this is successful, then the UAV may gain global coverage.
Northrop developed this aircraft especially for the United States Navy, meaning that one of its primary capabilities is landing and taking off from aboard aircraft carriers. Still, this asset may not be exploited to its full extent on account of its limited range.
If the refueling attempt works, then the UAV will be refueled mid-air just like a normal aircraft, potentially allowing it to remain airborne for prolonged periods of time. At this point, a Learjet is being used to simulate the behavior of the X-47B, Innovation News Daily
“These tests are a critical step toward proving that the X-47B can perform autonomous aerial refueling using either the Navy's probe-and-drogue refueling technique or the [USAF's] boom/receptacle approach,” explains Northrop Aerospace Systems VP and program manager, Carl Johnson.