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Stingray Takes to the Air

Boeing has announced the successful first flight of the MQ-25 Stingray. The first test example (T1) of the unmanned aerial refueler for the U.S. Navy made a successful two-hour flight from MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, on September 19.

During the sortie, T1 taxied and took off autonomously before flying a pre-determined route and recovering. In the course of the mission, basic flight and control functions were validated, as well as communications and control from a ground station. Although the flight was conducted autonomously, Boeing test pilots directed the mission from the ground throughout.

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MQ-25 Stingray: the first drone to refuel fighter jets in flight

Boeing Defense, Space & Security recently won a hotly contested contract to design, develop, fabricate, test, deliver, and support four MQ-25A Stingray unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), integrating them into the aircraft carrier air wing, something the US Navy has been looking at for some time.

?An unmanned aerial refuelling capability will extend the range of the carrier air wing and make better use of navy combat strike fighters that currently conduct aerial refuelling missions, while reducing the human risk factor of such missions,? says Captain Chad Reed, Navy Unmanned Carrier Aviation programme manager. ?Once operational, the MQ-25A Stingray will be the world?s first carrier-based, unmanned aircraft, providing a robust organic refuelling capability to the carrier air wing,?

Under the contract, worth an initial $805.3m, Boeing will deliver the fully operational MQ-25As by 2024.

NavalTechnology.com