Technology has seemingly become an ever-present reality in our world. It has been applied to almost every part of life from industry, to medicine, to space travel and the emerging electric vehicle market. The uses of new technologies is also changing the scope and abilities of the military services. These two videos take a look at a new system in the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps aircraft carrier air wings: the MQ-25 Stingray, a drone tanker for aerial refueling of fighter jets off of US Navy aircraft carriers.
The first video of the Boeing made, MQ-25 (T-1), is shown practicing maneuvers that it would have to be able to do on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The dimensions of an aircraft carrier deck are marked out on pavement and its ‘drivers’, that is the drone pilots who are training to drive these new drone tankers on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier at sea, and for taking off, landing capabilities, and for actual refueling missions in the future. Some of you might remember having and flying small, gas operated, remote controlled model airplanes. Well, while the principles are the same here, the size and real life function and mission of the MQ-25 drone tanker, is the Big Leagues in comparison.
The MQ-25 can carry and deliver up to 15,000 pounds of fuel over a range of 500nm (nautical miles) and can refuel both the Navy/Marine Corps F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-35C fighter jets while on missions, expanding the range and time in the air for those fighter assets. Each of those fighters can carry up to 3,500 pounds of fuel. This will give you a sense of how many fighters one of these MQ-25 drone refuelers can service before returning to an aircraft carrier to put on more fuel. No pilots, no fatigue.
The MQ-25 could do this around the clock as long as needed.
The second video is actual film taken of the MQ-25’s first ever mission to refuel another aircraft in flight. It shows the MQ-25 refueling a US Navy E-2D Hawkeye, carrier based Tactical battle-management, airborne early warning and command and control aircraft. The E-2D is a twin engined craft with a crew of five that has a 24-foot diameter radar dome on top of its fuselage. As you will see, the exercise seems to go off without a hitch.
Clearly, the MQ-25 tanker will soon to become part of the USN carrier fleet and will become a norm for future missions.