Technology

In a first, Boeing’s unmanned aircraft completes mid-air refuelling


During a test flight on June 4, a Boeing-owned unmanned MQ-25 T1 aircraft refuelled a U.S. navy F/A-18 fighter jet in mid-air.

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For the first time in history, an unmanned aircraft refuelled another in mid-air.

During a test flight on June 4, a Boeing-owned unmanned MQ-25 T1 aircraft refuelled a U.S. navy F/A-18 fighter jet in mid-air.

“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,” said Leanne Caret, President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

During the initial part of the flight, the U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet flew in close formation behind the MQ-25 to ensure stability prior to refueling, a maneuver that required as little as 20 feet of separation between the aircrafts.

Both aircrafts flew at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes.

The MQ-25 then extended the hose and drogue from its aerial refueling store (ARS), and the F/A-18 jet moved in to “plug” with the unmanned aircraft and receive jet fuel.

“Over the next few years, we will work side-by-side with Boeing to deliver this capability that will greatly enhance the future carrier air wing,” said Rear Adm. Brian Corey, who oversees the program executive office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons.

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