first published on September 20, 2019 by Funker
Boeing and the US Navy successfully conducted a historic first test flight of their autonomous refueling drone project, the MQ-25 Stingray.
According to the Boeing press release, “The aircraft completed an autonomous taxi and takeoff and then flew a pre-determined route to validate the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations with the ground control station.”
The MQ-25 will be the first carrier-launched autonomous unmanned aircraft integrated into the Navy’s strike arm, according to an article on Defense News.
The Stingray will conduct carrier-based refueling operations for Navy strike aircraft like the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35C Lightning II. The drone will be able to carry up to 15,000 pounds of fuel for a distance of 500 nautical miles away from the carrier, which will give the strike aircraft and additional range of 400 miles.
The Navy is expecting to pay approximately $13 billion for 72 aircraft, and the drones are expected to be declared operationally capable in 2024.