Image Number 2 for United States Patent #8010287.
The present invention is directed to accurate GPS (global positioning system)-free relative navigation between an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a tanker aircraft. The UAV transmits a signal which is received by an antenna array at the tanker aircraft. Horizontal relative position of the UAV is determined by calculating range and bearing based on time and phase differences in the received signal. Vertical relative position of the UAV is determined by comparing the altitude of the UAV with the altitude of the tanker aircraft. The tanker aircraft then transmits a navigation solution based on the relative position of the UAV which is received by the UAV. The UAV may utilize the navigation solution transmitted by the tanker aircraft as a backup to a GPS determined navigation solution, in a GPS denied scenario, or in combination with an INS (inertial navigation system) determined navigation solution.