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Airbus takes step towards autonomous refuelling with A310 MRTT demonstration

28th March 2023 - 17:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The Airbus A310 MRTT flies with a DT-25 target drone during the Auto'Mate demonstration. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus has demonstrated in-flight autonomous guidance and control of a UAV using an A310 MRTT tanker aircraft.

The demonstration by Airbus is a step towards autonomous formation flight and autonomous air-to-air refuelling for future operations with crewed and uncrewed fighters.

Airbus Defence and Space Head of Military Air Systems Jean-Brice Dumont said: ‘The success of this first flight-test campaign paves the way for developing autonomous and unmanned air-to-air refuelling technologies,

‘Even though we are at an early stage, we have achieved this within just one year and are on the right track for manned-unmanned teaming and future air force operations where fighters and mission aircraft will fly jointly with drone swarms.’

Farnborough 2022: Airbus launches Auto'Mate programme to test autonomous tanker tech

Technologies to achieve the demonstration integrated on the A310 MRTT and DT-25 target drones are known as ‘Auto’Mate’.

Over the Gulf of Cadiz, control of the target drone was transitioned from a ground station to the A310 tanker, autonomously guiding the DT-25 to an in-flight refuelling position.

A second campaign is planned for towards the end of 2023 and will explore navigation sensors based on artificial intelligence and enhanced algorithms for autonomous flight formation.

The Shephard News Team


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