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Unmanned aerial aircraft in the military forces are not only used for surveillance and monitoring but are very useful in missions such as refueling, replacing manned aircraft in challenging environments.

The US Navy has completed the first operational demonstrations of an MQ-25 Stingray onboard the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), marking a major milestone for the highly-anticipated unmanned tanker program.

The drones, loaded with jet fuel, are expected to vastly extend the ranges of carrier-based aircraft operating in the expanses of the western Pacific. 

The demonstrations, completed in conjunction with both Boeing and Lockheed Martin, was to evaluate the aircraft and its ground control system, or GCS.

Lockheed Martin was responsible for installing a prototype GCS inside the carrier’s unmanned aviation warfare center, a relatively new area being carved out of US aircraft carriers that will include controls both for the MQ-25 and other future unmanned systems.

The demonstration showed that the MQ-25 can meet both requirements, aerial refueling and integration onto the carrier deck, according to breakingdefense.com.