Navy United States The Pentagon said on Tuesday it had used the F / A-18 E-F Super Hornet fighter jet for the first time to refuel.
The unprecedented test was conducted by a Boeing MQ-25 Stingray drone on June 4, departing from MidAmerica Airport in Muscat, Illinois.
“This work has proven that the proven method of refueling an unmanned tanker aircraft can be used successfully,” the Department of Defense said.
“This aircraft lays the foundation for integration into the carrier environment and allows for greater efficiency in the integrated use of manned and unmanned vehicles,” said Rear Admiral Brian Corey, in charge of the project.
During the test, a hornet came within six meters of the drone, so both teams could take some measurements and observe the various characteristics of the robot, explained Dave Buzzold, director of the MQ-27 project cited by the Pentagon.
“They wanted to see how stable the plane was near the drone,” he said. “They wanted to officially observe with their own eyes, the behavior of the tanker and the refueling basket.”
The two Hornet crews of the 23rd Test and Assessment Force maintained radio communication with the MQ-25 operator who controlled the aircraft from a ground station.
After the operator used the drone’s hose and basket, Hornet approached a test link in which no fuel was sent from the tank to the fighter jet.
In the second connection, the two transferred 135 kg of fuel from the MQ-25 to the Hornet while flying at an altitude of about 3,050 meters and at normal operating speeds.
Both flights completed the connection in more than 10 minutes.
The work, which lasted about four and a half hours, was completed with another transfer of about 10 kg of fuel at an altitude of 4,880 meters.