“When we resume flight testing later this year, we’ll have the opportunity to gather test points about the aerodynamics of that pod and the software commands that control it — all happening well before we deliver the Navy’s first MQ-25 jet with the same pod,” MQ-25 program director Dave Bujold said in a statement from the aircraft’s manufacturer, Boeing.
Boeing engineers will primarily focus on the aerodynamics of the store pod mounted on the Stingray test article to observe hose and drogue behavior while being dragged behind the airframe. There have been recent concerns about scheduling of the U.S. Navy’s testing.
“Program officials stated that, among other things, the Navy’s potential inability to maintain its schedule commitments could require modifications to the contract that would impact the fixed-price terms,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported. “Specifically, the Navy faces limited flexibility to install MQ-25 control centers on aircraft carriers.”
The Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueling drone took its first flight Sept. 19, a historic step toward integrating an unmanned aircraft into the service’s powerful strike arm.
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