The prototype drone made its first autonomous flight in 2019, but then no fuel was transferred to another aircraft. The new achievement was realized on June 4 this year, when the autonomous flying MQ-25 loaded a manned F / A-18 Super Hornet in the air. The operation began with the fighter jet lined up in a close formation under and behind the drone. The MQ-25 then released and delivered the fuel rod, which is essentially a funnel-shaped vessel at the end of a long hose. The pilot then brought the aircraft closer to the drone, so that the drug was able to pair with the F / A-18 probe mounted on the nose.
For the first time, a drone loaded another plane while both aircraft were in flight. During the test, Boeing’s MQ-25 T1 drone transferred jet fuel to an American F / A-18 Super Hornet. Known by the military as Stingray, the MQ-25 T1 was developed and built at Boeing’s St. Louis plant after the aerospace company won a $ 805 million contract for the US Navy. Thanks to this maneuver, the jet fuel was transferred from the MQ-25 to the Super Hornet. According to Boeing, both planes flew at “operating speeds and altitudes.”
Ultimately, the plans are for Stingray drones to work in conjunction with aircraft carriers, taking off into the air to refuel the passing F / A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35C Lightning II. This task is currently being performed by manned F / A-18s, which must be removed from combat duty to deal with reloading. The MQ-25 T1 is now to be sent to Norfolk, Virginia, where it will be tested on the deck of aircraft carriers.
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