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US Navy refuelled a F/A-18 Super Hornet using an unmanned MQ-25 Stingray

The MQ-25 Stingray demonstrated its ability to carry out a tanker mission using the Navy's standard probe-and-drogue aerial refuelling method.

US Navy refuelled a F/A-18 Super Hornet using an unmanned MQ-25 Stingray
Author
Illinois, First Published Jun 7, 2021, 6:59 PM IST
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The United States Navy has carried out its first-ever aerial refuelling operations between a manned receiver aircraft and an unmanned MQ-25 Stingray tanker.

The MQ-25 Stingray demonstrated its ability to carry out a tanker mission using the Navy's standard probe-and-drogue aerial refuelling method.

The video shared by the US Navy shows a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet approaching the Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset, conducted a formation evaluation, wake survey, drogue tracking and then plugged with the unmanned aircraft. T1 then successfully transferred fuel from its Aerial Refueling Store to the F/A-18.

According to the US Navy, the MQ-25A Stingray will be the world's first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft and provide critical aerial refuelling and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. 

The operational flexibility and lethality of the carrier air wing and carrier strike group. 

"The MQ-25 is foundational to the Navy's Unmanned Campaign Framework and is the first step toward a future fleet augmented by unmanned systems to pace the evolving challenges of the 21st century," the US Navy said in a statement.

Capt. Chad Reed, program manager for the Navy's Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office (PMA-268), said: "This is our mission -- an unmanned aircraft that frees our strike fighters from the tanker role, and provides the Carrier Air Wing with greater range, flexibility and capability. Seeing the MQ-25 fulfilling its primary tasking, fueling a F/A-18, is a significant and exciting moment for the Navy and shows concrete progress toward realizing MQ-25's capabilities for the fleet."

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