MQ-25 Completes First Carrier Tests

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Boeing’s MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueler has successfully completed its first sea tests with the U.S Navy aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) aircraft carrier. The tests were also the first conducted on a carrier for the MQ-25 and covered deck handling maneuvers including taxiing on the deck, connecting to the catapult, clearing the landing area and parking on the deck. While maneuvering on deck, the MQ-25 T1 test asset was operated by a Boeing MQ-25 Deck Handling Operator (DHO) using “a new handheld deck control device.”

“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,” said Capt. Chad Reed, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. “The success of this event is a testament to the hard work of our engineers, testers, operators and the close collaboration and teaming from Naval Air Force Atlantic and the crew aboard CVN 77.”

The goal of the deck handling demonstration was to verify that the design could be integrated into the carrier environment along with evaluating the “functionality, capability and handling qualities of the deck handling system both in day and night conditions.” As previously reported by AVweb, the MQ-25 became the first unmanned aircraft system (UAS/drone) to successfully refuel another aircraft in flight last June as part of a two-year flight test campaign. To date, it has been used to refuel an F/A-18 Super Hornet, an E-2D Hawkeye and an F-35C Lightning II.

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Kate O’Connor works as a senior editor at AVweb. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.