The X-47B successfully made its first aerial refuelling hookup yesterday

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Note that, even if the US eventually did make a MQ-*something* out of the X-47, it would not necessarily be an MQ-47. While that *did* happen with the X-35 -> F-35, that wasn’t the original intent – the X-35 was *supposed* to become the F-24. Consider:

– How drastically the [X-15](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_X-15) differs from the [F-15](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F-15_Eagle)
– How much the [X-1](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_X-1) differs from the [MQ-1](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Atomics_MQ-1_Predator).

The X-series of aircract are generally numbered indepedently of the F-series, B-series, C-series, MQ-series, etc aircraft. X-series are e**x**perimental aircraft which are often one-offs and also independently numbered. However, to make matters even more complicated, the pattern of sharing the same number *is* used in other situations, such as:

– [F-4](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F-4_Phantom_II) -> QF-4 (converted into a drone)
– [F-16](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Dynamics_F-16_Fighting_Falcon) -> QF-16 (converted into a drone)
– [YF-16](http://www.f-16.net/f-16_versions_article25.html) -> [F-16](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Dynamics_F-16_Fighting_Falcon) (prototype -> production)
– [YF-22 -> F-22](http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/AIR_F-22_vs_YF-22_Comparison_lg.jpg) (prototype -> production)
– [A-12](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_A-12) -> [YF-12](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_YF-12) (recon -> interceptor prototype)

There is *usually* a pattern of:

– If the letter just before the dash is shared, the aircraft are probably related. For example, YF-16, F-16 and QF-16 are all related – prototype, production and drone.
– If the letter just before the dash is different, the aircraft are probably unrelated. For example, X-15, F-15, and YC-15 – experimental, fighter, and prototype cargo.

Thus, from this rule, one would not expect a X-47 to become a MQ-47 – the letter-before-the-dash is not shared. One *would* expect (something along the lines of) a YMQ-47 -> MQ-47. However, this is not always the case, as the (X-35, F-35) and (A-12, YF-12) are in fact related pairs.

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