The US Navy and Boeing have successfully maneuvered a test asset for the MQ-25 Stingray on an aircraft carrier for the first time, demonstrating that the aerial refueling drone could be integrated into a carrier environment.
The maneuvers included taxiing and parking on the carrier’s flight deck, connecting to the catapult, and clearing the landing area. It also evaluated the deck handling system’s functionality, capability, and handling qualities in different conditions.
Boeing said that the demonstration of its T1 test asset of MQ-25 aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) was remotely directed by a handheld deck control device on the carrier’s deck.
“There is no better way to determine the success of a carrier aircraft design and its integration into the air wing then to put that new aircraft through testing at sea,” said Capt. Chad Reed, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager.
USS George H.W. Bush is the first of the four carriers that will be modified with the Unmanned Carrier Aviation Mission Control System to operate the Stingrays.
“This is another significant step forward in demonstrating MQ-25’s integration into the Carrier Air Wing on the flight deck of our Fleet’s aircraft carriers,” Capt. Chad Reed, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager said.
About the MQ-25
The MQ-25 Stingray will be the world’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft, which is capable of providing aerial refueling capability to an increased range of the navy’s deployed fighter jets including Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing’ EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin’s F-35C fighters.
The aircraft is considered as the future of unmanned aircraft carrier aviation to be used in US Navy missions. In 2018, the navy awarded an $805.3 million contract to Boeing to build four MQ-25s in six years.
The maneuver of the T1 test asset on the carrier comes after a two-year flight test where it was used to refuel three different carrier-based aircraft used by the US Navy.