The service branch said Monday that the unprecedented MQ-25 program achievement was conducted on June 4 from MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois.
The receiver Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet approached the Boeing MQ-25 T1 Stingray drone and reportedly evaluated formation, wake survey, drogue tracking and “plugged” with the aircraft.
Fuel was then transferred from the test asset drone from its Navy-issued Aerial Refueling Store (ARS) to the fighter jet.
The maneuver required as little as 20 feet of separation between the drone and F/1-18 aircraft.
The Navy said the progress showed that MQ-25 could fulfill its tanker mission using the Navy-standard “probe-and-drogue” aerial refueling method.
Nou, the Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons Program will continue testing the drone to include facets like flight envelope expansion, engine testing and deck handling demonstrations aboard an aircraft.
Test flight data is set to be analyzed to determine whether any adjustments are necessary.