Unmanned MQ-25 Conducts Aerial Refueling with U.S. Navy E-2D Aircraft

The Boeing MQ-25 T1 unmanned test asset has successfully completed an air-to-air refueling mission with a U.S. Navy E-2D command and control aircraft, the second carrier-based aircraft it has refueled to date By DA Reporter / 01 Sep 2021
Boeing MQ-25 and U.S. Navy E-2D
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The U.S. Navy and Boeing have completed a second carrier-based aircraft unmanned refueling mission with the Boeing MQ-25 (T1) test asset, this time refueling a Navy E-2D Hawkeye command and control aircraft.

During a test flight from MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, pilots from the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-20 conducted a successful wake survey behind T1 to ensure performance and stability before making contact with T1’s aerial refueling drogue. The E-2D received fuel from T1’s aerial refueling store during the flight.

“Once operational the MQ-25 will refuel every receiver-capable platform, including E-2,” said Capt. Chad Reed, the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. 

“This flight keeps us on a fast track to getting the MQ-25 Stingray out to the fleet where its refueling capability will greatly increase the range and operational flexibility of the carrier air wing and strike group.”

The MQ-25 Stingray will be assigned to the carrier airborne early warning squadron within the carrier air wing, which currently operates the E-2 C/D aircraft – known as the ‘digital quarterback’ of the fleet for its role in joint battle management and command and control.

“It was another great flight showing that our MQ-25 design is performing to plan,” said Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director. 

“These historic refueling flights provide an incredible amount of data we feed back into the MQ-25 digital models to ensure the aircraft we’re producing will be the Navy’s game-changer for the carrier air wing.”

Both refueling missions were conducted at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes, with the E-2D and F/A-18 performing maneuvers in close proximity to T1.

Boeing is currently manufacturing the first two of seven MQ-25 test aircraft and two ground test articles currently under contract. The Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset is a predecessor to these aircraft. 

The MQ-25 is leveraging advancements in model-based digital engineering and design, and ongoing flights are intended to test aircraft design and performance much earlier than traditional programs.

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