Airborne refueling, tested a couple of years ago, has brought the United States one step closer to creating the Stingray MQ-25 drone-tanker.
The fact is that the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet and the newest F-35, which make up the main striking power of carrier-based aircraft, have very modest fuel tanks, which is not the best reflected in their flight range. So, for example, the veteran of the A-6 Intruder fleet (1963) surpasses them in this indicator by two times.
To increase the capabilities of carrier-based aircraft, it is planned to use the Stingray MQ-25 as a flying drone tanker. The UAV will follow the fighters and replenish their fuel supplies at the right time.
All the necessary contracts have been signed and the testing of the first prototype models is expected in the near future. In addition to tankers, it is also planned to develop a shock version of the Stingray MQ-25.
So far, the US Navy uses the Northrop Grumman X-47B drone as a demonstration of technology.