Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the U.S. Navy have for the primary time flown the MQ-25 T1 check asset with an aerial refueling retailer (ARS), a major milestone informing improvement of the unmanned aerial refueler.
The profitable 2.5-hour flight with the Cobham ARS – the identical ARS presently utilized by F/A-18s for air-to-air refueling – was designed to check the plane’s aerodynamics with the ARS mounted underneath the wing. The flight was performed by Boeing check pilots working from a floor management station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Ailing.
“Having a test asset flying with an ARS gets us one big step closer in our evaluation of how MQ-25 will fulfill its primary mission in the fleet – aerial refueling,” mentioned Capt. Chad Reed, the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Provider Aviation program supervisor. “T1 will continue to yield valuable early insights as we begin flying with F/A-18s and conduct deck handling testing aboard a carrier.”
Future flights will proceed to check the aerodynamics of the plane and the ARS at varied points of the flight envelope, ultimately progressing to extension and retraction of the hose and drogue used for refueling.
“To see T1 fly with the hardware and software that makes MQ-25 an aerial refueler this early in the program is a visible reminder of the capability we’re bringing to the carrier deck,” mentioned Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director. “We’re ensuring the ARS and the software operating it will be ready to help MQ-25 extend the range of the carrier air wing.”
The Boeing-owned T1 check asset is a predecessor to the engineering improvement model plane being produced underneath a 2018 contract award. T1 is getting used for early studying and discovery, laying the inspiration for shifting quickly into improvement and check of the MQ-25. Following its first flight final yr, T1 accrued roughly 30 hours within the air earlier than the deliberate modification to put in the ARS.
Earlier this yr the Navy exercised an choice for 3 extra MQ-25 air automobiles, bringing the entire plane Boeing is initially producing to seven. The Navy intends to obtain greater than 70 plane, which can assume the tanking position presently carried out by F/A-18s, permitting for higher use of the fight strike fighters.