Boeing and the U.S. Navy this week flew a Boeing-owned autonomous MQ-25 T1 test aircraft for the first time with an aerial refueling store (ARS) installed, marking a “significant milestone informing development of the unmanned aerial refueler,” Boeing reports. For the 2.5-hour test flight, Boeing equipped the same Cobham ARS under the T1’s wing that Boeing F/A-18s now use for air-to-air refueling. The test flight took place at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois.
“One Big Step Closer”
Boeing says the T1 is a precursor to the engineering development model aircraft it’s producing under a 2018 contract. Boeing is using the T1 for learning and discovery purposes as it moves into development and testing of the MQ-25, which first flew last year and had logged roughly 30 hours’ airtime before it was modified for the ARS installation. The Navy has seven MQ-25 aircraft on order but intends to acquire more than 70 overall, Boeing says. The MQ-25 will eventually take over tanking duties the F/A-18s has performed, and will help extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets, Boeing EA-18G Growlers, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters.
“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,” says Capt. Chad Reed, U.S. Navy 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.”
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Posted On: 12/11/2020 5:29:15 PM