ST. LOUIS- Boeing and the U.S. Navy tested its autonomous MQ-25 air vehicle for the first time with an aerial refueling store (ARS). The 2.5 hour test flight happened at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport earlier this week.
The flight was a significant milestone in the development of the unmanned aerial refueler.
Boeing says the aerial refueler pod contains the hose and basket that will help refuel Navy fighter aircraft.
Future test flights will allow for the development of software components and testing of the aerial refueling hardware MQ-25 will use. “Having a test asset flying with an ARS gets us one big step closer in our evaluation of how MQ-25 will fulfill its primary mission in the fleet – aerial refueling,” said Capt. Chad Reed, the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager in a press release. Capt. Reed also said it will continue to yield valuable early insights as the U.S. Navy begins flying with F/A-18s and conduct deck handling testing aboard a carrier. Future flights will continue to test the aerodynamics of the aircraft and the ARS with the goal of progressing to the hose and drogue extending and retracting for refueling. Earlier this year, the Navy contracted with Boeing for three additional MQ-25 air vehicles, bringing the total aircraft Boeing is initially producing to seven.