Boeing and the U.S. Navy are flight testing the MQ-25 T1 test asset with an aerial refueling store (ARS), a significant milestone informing development of the unmanned aerial refueler.
The successful 2.5-hour first flight with the Cobham ARS – the same ARS currently used by F/A-18s for air-to-air refueling – was designed to test the aircraft’s aerodynamics with the ARS mounted under the wing. Additional flights continue to test the aerodynamics of the aircraft and the ARS at various points of the flight envelope, eventually progressing to extension and retraction of the hose and drogue used for refueling.
“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. “T1 will continue to yield valuable early insights as we begin flying with F/A-18s and conduct deck handling testing aboard a carrier.”
The Boeing-owned T1 test asset is a predecessor to the engineering development model aircraft being produced under a 2018 contract award. T1 is being used for early learning and discovery, laying the foundation for moving rapidly into development and test of the MQ-25.