Boeing and the US Navy have successfully completed the first MQ-25 ™ test flight unmanned aerial refueler.
The MQ-25 test asset, called T1, completed the two-hour autonomous flight under the direction of Boeing pilots from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, where the program of the test. The aircraft independently completed a taxi and take-off to then fly on a predefined route in order to validate the basic flight functions of the aircraft and operations with the ground control station.
"Seeing the MQ-25 in flight is a demonstration that our Boeing and Navy teams, working on technology, systems and processes, are supporting the entry of the MQ-25 into the operator's fleet," commented Dave Bujold Program Director Boeing of the MQ-25. "This aircraft and its test flight program ensure the delivery of the MQ-25 to the operator with the safety, capacity and reliability that the Navy requires to conduct its vital missions".
The Boeing test asset is the predecessor of the airborne engineering development model (EDM) and was used to learn and discover in advance in order to achieve the objectives of the US Navy's accelerated acquisition program. Boeing will produce four EDM MQ-25 aircraft for the Navy under a contract from 805 million dollars obtained in August 2018.
The MQ-25 will provide the Navy with the unmanned air supply capacity it needs most. It will allow a better use of the combat strike fighters that currently play the role of supply and will expand the range of the carrier's squadron.
"This test flight is an exciting and significant milestone for our program and for the Navy"said the Capt Program Manager. Chad Reed of Navy's Unmanned Carrier Aviation (PMA-268). "The flight of this test asset two years before the arrival of our first MQ-25 represents the first major step in a series of learning opportunities that are helping us progress towards delivering revolutionary capabilities to the operator squadron and for attack group commanders ".
The T1 received its certificate of fitness for flight from the FAA in September, a certificate attesting that the aircraft meets the agency's requirements for a safe flight. The tests will continue with the T1 to further learn and discover what can improve the main systems and software development.