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US Navy, first- air refueling with unmanned tanker

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2421   11 days ago
bravo61 | 43 subscribers
2421   11 days ago
The U.S. Navy conducted its first-ever aerial refueling between a manned aircraft and an unmanned tanker on June 4, with a Boeing-owned MQ-25 Stingray test vehicle performing its first midair tanking mission with a Navy F/A-18E-F Super Hornet.

The test mission out of MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, proved the unmanned tanker could successfully use the Navy’s standard probe-and-drogue aerial refueling method.

Once fielded, the MQ-25 will operate from aircraft carriers, refueling the air wing operating at sea and relieving the Super Hornet fleet of the tanking mission, which the Navy has said can at times account for more than one-third of Super Hornet flight hours during carrier air wing operations.

“This flight lays the foundation for integration into the carrier environment, allowing for greater capability toward manned-unmanned teaming concepts,” Rear Adm. Brian Corey, the program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons, was quoted as saying in a Navy news release. “MQ-25 will greatly increase the range and endurance of the future carrier air wing – equipping our aircraft carriers with additional assets well into the future.”

During the test, a Navy Super Hornet approached the Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test vehicle, coming within 20 feet of the unmanned aircraft to take some measurements and observe several features of the unmanned tanker, Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director, told reporters in a press call.

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