Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Contact    |    RSS icon Twitter icon Facebook icon  
You are viewing: Home > News > Science & Technology > News story
Welcome Guest ( Login or Register )  
Science & Technology

Drone refuels US fighter jet for first time ever

By T.K. Randall
June 8, 2021 · Comment icon 11 comments

The procedure went smoothly. Image Credit: YouTube / Boeing
An unmanned tanker drone successfully refueled a fighter jet in mid-air during a test flight on Friday.
The impressive feat, which involved a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet, demonstrated the significant potential of unmanned tanker drones and could mark the beginning of the end for traditional piloted tanker aircraft.

During the test flight, the drone - a Boeing-built device named MQ-25 Stingray - maintained its altitude and speed as the hose extended and the two aircraft briefly linked up to exchange fuel.

The test was carried out from the MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois.

In total, 325lbs of fuel was transferred during the flight which lasted 4.5 hours.
"Unmanned systems alongside our traditional combatant force provide additional capability and capacity to give our warfighters the advantage needed to fight, win and deter potential aggressors," said Captain Chad Reed of the US Navy's Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office.

"The MQ-25 is that first step towards a future where the carrier-based fleet is augmented by unmanned systems."

The US Navy also posted up a Tweet describing the mission's success as "aviation history".

"This flight lays the foundation for integration into the carrier environment, allowing for greater capability toward manned-unmanned teaming concepts," the post reads.

Source: CBS News | Comments (11)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by and then 2 years ago
Funny, I didn't notice that.  Perhaps the Hornet had to adjust to the drone but I can't imagine that ever being a superior means of refueling.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Hammerclaw 2 years ago
Maybe not a real photo. Look at the light and shadows on the plane compared to the drone. The second below looks more convincing. The Drone must be in a holding pattern while refueling.
Comment icon #4 Posted by DreadLordAvatar 2 years ago
Old technology 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Jon the frog 2 years ago
Don't know the fuel payload of that thing ? It doesnt look a lot more than buddy refueling from another f-18..
Comment icon #6 Posted by and then 2 years ago
How so?  Who else is already using the concept?
Comment icon #7 Posted by and then 2 years ago
Good question that the piece didn't expand on.  The drone looks to be at least 50% larger than the F-18 and is basically an engine, airframe, and fuel tank.  I think it's an interesting concept and I'm pretty sure they'll use it on missions where there is no possibility of using conventional tanking for whatever reason.  It'd be nice to see what they envision.  If the drone has significant ability to loiter safely near a mission way-point it would be the dream of a certain middle east air force I can think of...
Comment icon #8 Posted by Jon the frog 2 years ago
Looked a bit about numbers, the mq-25  is to be able to deliver 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) of fuel, a f-18f hornet with buddy refueling tanks payload of four 460 usg wing tanks can deliver about 12500 lb of fuel if he don't use the fuel in his internal tanks. Well it could be a good improvement because they cost probably less per hours than a f-18f with two pilots... and the mk25 can loiter probablya lot more per fuel used.
Comment icon #9 Posted by and then 2 years ago
This seemed to fit here... https://interestingengineering.com/navy-drone-ship-completes-5000-mile-trip-autonomously?_source=newsletter&_campaign=a0Jdjq9p7M5Eg&_uid=MYerkzpWaO&_h=04452d0c26779c81966b4e238f2eb3f3c2659916&_nt=8o6Q1W&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=mailing&utm_campaign=Newsletter-11-06-2021
Comment icon #10 Posted by Jon the frog 2 years ago
Terminator movies are not a long shot... AI will be the best for warmongers...
Comment icon #11 Posted by fred_mc 2 years ago
I think in the future the fighter will be unmanned too, so a tanker drone will refuel a fighter drone.

Please Login or Register to post a comment.

Our new book is out now!

The Unexplained Mysteries
Book of Weird News


Take a walk on the weird side with this compilation of some of the weirdest stories ever to grace the pages of a newspaper.

Click here to learn more

We need your help!

Support us on Patreon


For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can gain access to a wide range of exclusive perks including our popular 'Lost Ghost Stories' series.

Click here to learn more

 Total Posts: 7,455,638    Topics: 307,764    Members: 200,219

 Not a member yet ? Click here to join - registration is free and only takes a moment!
Recent news and articles