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World First: US Navy refuels jet mid-air with unmanned drone



The US Navy has refueled an aircraft using an unmanned drone for the first time in history

The drone, dubbed MQ-25 Stingray, uses the Navy’s probe-and-drogue refuelling method.

The operation took place near Mascoutah, Illinois, with an FA-18 Super Hornet.

The Navy says the carrier-based drone will be the world’s first unmanned tanker to provide critical aerial refuelling and intelligence.

During the flight, the Super Hornet approached the drone from behind and were as close as 20 feet from each other, Boeing said.

Mid-flight, the hose extended from the drone, and the Super Hornet connected with the drogue at the end of the hose to receive the fuel.

Boeing’s drone transferred 325 of the 500 pounds of fuel available during the approximately 4.5-hour test flight, Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director, said during a press conference Monday.

The US Navy says the carrier-based drone will be the world’s first unmanned tanker to provide critical aerial refuelling and intelligence.

“This is a significant and exciting moment for the Navy and shows concrete progress toward realising MQ-25’s capabilities for the fleet,”

US Navy Captain Chad Reed said.

It comes as the US military juggernaut faces ever-increasing challenges around the world, particularly in the South China Sea.

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