14 September (WNN) — Boeing said Tuesday it has used an MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aircraft to refuel the US Navy’s F-35C Lightning II fighter jet for the first time.
It was the third mission in three months for a Boeing-owned aircraft built primarily for mid-air refueling missions.
The T1 prototype refueled the F/A-18 Super Hornet in June, making it the first unmanned aircraft to refuel another aircraft in mid-air. In August, it fueled the E-2D Hawkeye.
During a test flight on Monday, an F-35C test pilot from the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three conducted a wake survey behind the T1 to ensure its stability before the unmanned aircraft refueling drogue and receiving fuel Done successfully.
“This flight was another physical demonstration of the maturity and sustainability of the MQ-25 aircraft design,” said Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director, in a press release.
Bujold said, “Thanks to this latest mission in our accelerated test program, we are confident that the MQ-25 aircraft we are building now will meet the Navy’s primary requirement – safely delivering fuel to the carrier air wing.” ”
The MQ-25 Stingray is expected to play a key role in increasing the combat range of carrier-based fighters to hundreds of miles, The National Interest reported.
According to US military officials, this is particularly important as China and Russia are investing heavily in anti-ship medium-range ballistic missiles and hypersonic missiles.
First unveiled in December 2017, Boeing’s unmanned aerial tanker is designed to refuel US Navy jets. The company was awarded the contract in 2018 to develop unmanned tanker drones.
According to Boeing, in the coming months, the T1 prototype will be in deck-handling demonstration on a US Navy carrier.