Boeing and the US Navy last month 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, with the test validating the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations with the ground control station.
The MQ-25 will provide the Navy with a carrier-based unmanned aerial refuelling capability.
The Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation (PMA-268) program manager Capt. Chad Reed, said: “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 rapidly progress towards delivery of a game-changing capability for the carrier air wing and strike group commanders.
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 US Navy’s accelerated acquisition program.
Boeing will produce four EDM MQ-25 air vehicles for the US 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.