Military Embedded Systems

Boeing's MQ-25 UAV first to refuel a U.S. Navy Super Hornet


June 08, 2021

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Boeing photo.

CHICAGO, Il. The U.S. Navy and Boeing have demonstrated air-to-air refueling using an unmanned aircraft, the Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset, to refuel another aircraft.

During a test flight, MQ-25 T1 extended the hose and drogue from its U.S. Navy-issued aerial refueling store (ARS) and transferred jet fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet.

During the initial part of the flight, officials say the F/A-18 test pilot flew in close formation behind MQ-25 to ensure performance and stability prior to refueling. Both aircraft were flying at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes. After the evaluation, the MQ-25 drogue was extended, and the F/A-18 pilot moved in to connect with the unmanned aircraft and receive the scheduled fuel offload.

According to the company, the milestone comes after 25 T1 flights, testing both aircraft and ARS aerodynamics across the flight envelope, as well as extensive simulations of aerial refueling using MQ-25 digital models. MQ-25 T1 will continue flight testing prior to being shipped to Norfolk, Virginia for deck handling trials aboard a U.S. Navy carrier later this year.


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