For the first time, a Boeing MQ-25 Stingray drone intended for the U.S. Navy flew with an air refueling container, which could trigger the services of F / A-18 fighter jets used for air refueling.
The U.S. Navy has a key role to play in the new drone in long-term missions, as this task has so far been performed by F / A-18s to ensure air refueling capability that is quickly available at any time in the oceans. There are a relatively large number of these on the carriers, and almost any of them can be fitted with a fuel delivery container – at the expense of actual combat capability. According to the original plans and tenders for 2006, a reconnaissance drone would have been developed in the program, but by changing the idea several times, the US Navy preferred a tank drone capable of transmitting data while also functioning as an air repeater station. The first T1-coded proto-copy of the Stingray-type model was thus able to make its first take-off in September 2019, has since completed a number of test flights, and is well on its way to becoming a system. The MQ-25 recently passed another important test with success: it flew for two and a half hours under its wing with a flexible tubular refueling container (ARS).
This is the same Cobham-manufactured device that F / A-18 fighters currently use for air refueling, as the Navy has quite a lot of it, so it’s more economical to not have to modify this system to introduce a new type. Captain Chad Reed, U.S. Navy’s program manager, said these early, simpler tests are essential to getting to know the new aircraft, and will later examine its operability from the aircraft carrier’s board as well. Prior to this, even at each stage of the flight, the effects of the ARS equipment are analyzed in detail, and if everything is found to be in order, the release and retraction of the fuel transfer tube is also attempted during the flight. Only then will the tests begin on board the ships and the integration process will begin. The US Navy has ordered seven of the MQ-25 so far, but plans to deploy ten times as many copies if it works.