US’ MQ-25 drone has for the first time refueled an F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in flight, the Boeing Company announced on Tuesday.
“The US Navy and Boeing have used the MQ-25TM T1 test asset to refuel a US Navy F-35C Lightning II fighter jet for the first time, once again demonstrating the aircraft’s ability to achieve its primary aerial refueling mission,” Boeing said in a news release.
It was the third refueling mission for the Boeing-owned test asset in just over three months, advancing the test program for the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft.
A T1 refueled the F/A-18 Super Hornet in June and an E-2D Hawkeye in August, the release said.
“Every test flight with another Type/Model/Series aircraft gets us one step closer to rapidly delivering a fully mission-capable MQ-25 to the fleet. Stingray’s unmatched refueling capability is going to increase the Navy’s power projection and provide operational flexibility to the Carrier Strike Group commanders.”
US Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager Captain Chad Reed said in the release.
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During a test flight on September 13, an F-35C test pilot conducted a successful wake survey behind the MQ-25TM T1 to ensure performance and stability before making contact with T1’s aerial refueling drogue and receiving fuel, the release said.