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Boeing, US Navy Test Air-to-air Refueling Using Unmanned Aircraft To Refuel Another Aircraft

Aerospace company Boeing Co. (BA) announced Monday that for the first time in history it has, along with the U.S. Navy, 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 June 4, MQ-25 T1 successfully extended the hose and drogue from its U.S. Navy-issued aerial refueling store (ARS) and safely transferred jet fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet, demonstrating the MQ-25 Stingray's ability to carry out its primary aerial refueling mission.

During the initial part of the flight, the F/A-18 test pilot flew in close formation behind MQ-25 to ensure performance and stability prior to refueling - a maneuver that required as little as 20 feet of separation between the MQ-25 T1 air vehicle and the F/A-18 refueling probe.

The Boeing-owned T1 test asset is a predecessor to the seven test aircraft Boeing is manufacturing under a 2018 contract award. The MQ-25 will assume the tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s.

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