A drone has successfully loaded a US fighter jet into the air for the first time, officials said on Monday. The F / A-18 Super Hornet navy and a Boeing-produced drone were briefly connected by a hose as the drone transferred jet fuel to the aircraft in the skies over the Midwest during a test flight on Friday.
During the flight, the Super Hornet approached the drone, known as the MQ-25 Stingray, from behind and was about 20 meters apart, Boeing said. The hose ran from the drone, and the Super Hornet connected to the drug at the end of the hose to get the fuel. The Navy posted a video of the test flight on Twitter.
The test was conducted at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Maskuta, Illinois, and the Navy and Boeing said they plan to test the aircraft carrier later this year.
The drone transferred 325 of the 500 kilograms of fuel available during the approximately 4.5-hour test flight, said Dave Budjold, program director of the Boeing MQ-25, during a press conference on Monday.
“Unmanned systems, along with traditional combat forces, provide additional capability and capacity to give our military the advantage needed to fight, win, and deter potential aggressors,” said Captain Chad Reed, program manager for the unmanned program office. Navy aviation of the Navy. “The MQ-25 is the first step into the future in which a carrier-based fleet is being augmented by unmanned systems.”
Reed called the drone a “power multiplier” that releases combat fighters and naval pilots who currently play the role of refueling.
Testing of the drone program begins with the Super Hornet at the receiving end, but the program expects to extend testing to other receivers.
The data collected during the flight for air interactions, guidance and control will be analyzed to see if any adjustments need to be made, Reed said in a statement.