The US Navy and Boeing are in the process of completing ground tests of the MQ-25 Stingray test asset.

The tests are being conducted at Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field in Virginia, US.

During the tests, uncrewed aerial refuelling drone MQ-25 Stingray brings intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the air wing. These capabilities help extend the operational capacity and lethality of the Carrier Air Wing (CAW) and Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

US Naval Air Force Atlantic commander rear admiral John Meier said: “The Stingray is the future of naval aviation. It is the first aircraft carrier-based unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

“The ground testing is another step toward the teaming of manned and unmanned aircraft platforms. Integrating platforms like the MQ-25 into the air wing will increase their lethality and reach.”

According to the US Navy, the MQ-25 creates path for future uncrewed systems to be launched to the air wing and aircraft carrier-related environment.

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US Navy chief aviation machinist Mate Michael Solle said that MQ-25’s UAS capabilities will enable the F/A-18 to get back to its primary mission set and enhance its strike range, while improving manoeuvrability.

MQ-25 will refuel every receiver-capable carrier-based aircraft upon entering service.

It is planned to be one of the US Navy’s ‘fastest major defence acquisition programmes’ to achieve initial operational capability (IOC).

In September, the US Navy and Boeing completed a carrier-based aircraft uncrewed refuelling mission with a F-35C Lightning II fighter jet for the first time.