Unmanned Aerial Refueler Makes First Flight

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The U.S. Navy and Boeing successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler on Thursday. The test lasted approximately two hours and included an autonomous taxi and takeoff followed by flight along a predetermined route. According to Boeing, the goal of Thursday’s flight was to “validate the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations with the ground control station.” Testing was conducted at the St. Louis Airport (BLV) in Mascoutah, Illinois.

“Today’s flight is an exciting and significant milestone for our program and the Navy,” said Navy Unmanned Carrier Aviation (PMA-268) Program Manager Capt. Chad Reed. “The flight of this test asset two years before our first MQ-25 arrives represents the first big step in a series of early learning opportunities that are helping us progress toward delivery of a game-changing capability for the carrier air wing and strike group commanders.”

The MQ-25 T1 prototype received its FAA experimental airworthiness certificate this month. Boeing was awarded an initial $805 million contract to produce four MQ-25s for the Navy in August 2018.