CHICAGO—An unmanned aircraft produced by Boeing recently performed the world’s first air-to-air refueling. During the test flight, the MQ-25 Stingray successfully extended a hose and drogue to safely transfer jet fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet.
The F/A-18 test pilot flew in close formation behind the MQ-25 to ensure performance and stability prior to refueling. Both aircraft were flying at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes. With the evaluation safely completed, the MQ-25 drogue was extended, and the F/A-18 pilot moved in to “plug” with the unmanned aircraft and receive the scheduled fuel offload.
“This history-making event is a credit to our joint Boeing and Navy team that is all-in on delivering MQ-25’s critical aerial refueling capability to the fleet as soon as possible,” says Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security. “Their work is the driving force behind the safe and secure integration of unmanned systems in the immediate future of defense operations.”
The MQ-25 will continue flight testing before being shipped to Norfolk, VA, for deck handling trials on a Navy aircraft carrier later this year.