Boeing and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler. The MQ-25 test asset, known as T1, completed the autonomous flight under the direction of Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Ill. The aircraft completed an autonomous taxi and takeoff and then flew a pre-determined route. The test validated the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations with the ground control station.
The MQ-25 will provide the Navy with a much-needed carrier-based unmanned aerial refueling capability. The Boeing-owned test asset is a predecessor to the engineering development model (EDM) aircraft and is being used for early learning and discovery to meet the goals of the U.S. Navy’s accelerated acquisition program. Boeing will produce four EDM MQ-25 air vehicles for the U.S. Navy. T1 received its experimental airworthiness certificate from the FAA in September, verifying that the air vehicle meets the agency’s requirements for safe flight.
The Boeing MQ-25 Stingray is an aerial refueling drone that resulted from the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS) program, which grew out of the earlier Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program. Boeing’s MQ-25 design is powered by one Rolls-Royce AE 3007N turbofan engine delivering 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) of thrust; it is a variant of the engine used to power the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton. The aircraft is less stealthy than flying wing UAVs. However, it still features a stealthy fuselage shaping, flush inlet to shield engine blades from radar and V-tail.