Boeing’s MQ-25 aerial refueling drone performed tests aboard the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush (CVN 77) for the first time.
The T1 prototype was taken aboard the US Navy vessel in order to demonstrate maneuvering on deck. The aircraft received guidance from the cockpit directors, known as “yellow shirts”.
However, instead of the pilot, a Deck Handling Operator (DHC) next to the “yellow shirt” controlled the MQ-25 via a handheld remote 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.”
According to Boeing, the demonstration was intended to ensure that the MQ-25 design can integrate into the carrier environment, replacing manned refueling aircraft.
The MQ-25 program has been conducting in-flight demonstrations for two years now, during which it performed in-flight refueling of the F/A-18 Super Hornet, an E-2D Hawkeye and an F-35C Lightning II aircraft.