Boeing and the U.S. Navy have completed the first test flight for MQ-25 T1 with an aerial refueling store (ARS), the company reported on Wednesday. The successful 2.5-hour flight with the Cobham ARS was designed to test the aircraft’s aerodynamics with the ARS mounted under the wing.
“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,” said Capt. Chad Reed, the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. “T1 will continue to yield valuable early insights as we begin flying with F/A-18s and conduct deck handling testing aboard a carrier.”
The flight was conducted by Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. Future flights will continue to test the aerodynamics of the aircraft and the ARS, eventually progressing to extension and retraction of the hose and drogue used for refueling.
T1 is being used for early learning and discovery, laying the foundation for development and testing of the MQ-25.
“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,” said 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.”
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