Fighter jets rely on midair refueling to extend their range. Militaries across the globe use airborne tankers that are capable of refueling their fighter jets while they’re airbone. Boeing has now unveiled a new kind of airborne tanker and it’s one that doesn’t require a pilot. Boeing’s new autonomous plane has been desgined to refuel U.S. Navy fighter jets midair.

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The United States Navy issued a request for proposals in October as it sought unmanned refueling capabilities for many of its fighter jets. They include the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and the Lockheed Martin F-35C.

Interested companies have to respond to the Navy’s request by January 3rd, 2018. Boeing has revealed it’s unmanned airborne tanker entry. The autonomous plane is completing its engine runs currently and will head to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations in early 2018.

The airplane that’s selected has to be capable of launching and landing on aircraft carriers. It will have to work with catapult, launch, and recovery systems that are found on aircraft carriers.

Boeing’s entry is called the MQ-25 Stringray aerial tanker. The company says that it can deliver 15,000 pounds of fuel to a distance of 500 nautical miles out from an aircraft carrier. This should be enough to provide fighter jets with an additional flight range of up to 400 miles.

“Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded,” said retired admiral Don Gaddis, he leads the refueling system program for Boeing’s Phantom Works organization.

Filed in Military. Read more about Boeing. Source: geekwire

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