The US Naval Air Systems Command and Boeing announced on Monday that their T-1 prototype of the US Navy’s MQ-25A Stingray successfully completed the service’s first mid-air refueling of a fighter jet. The first-of-its-kind test took place at the MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, on 4 June.
In a video released by Boeing, the Stingray is seen extending its hose and drogue to deliver fuel to a F/A-18 Super Hornet. The maneuver required as little as 20 feet (6.1 meters) of separation between the drone and the Super Hornet’s refueling probe.
Back in 2018, the US Navy had awarded Boeing an $805 million contract to design, develop, test and deliver four MQ-25A Stingray drones. At the time, the US Navy estimated that the carrier-based, unmanned aerial vehicles would achieve initial operational capability
“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,” Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said in a quoted statement.
The US Navy is set to procure 72 MQ-25As for approximately $1.3 billion.