WASHINGTON: The Navy and Boeing have completed a second refueling demonstration using the company’s MQ-25 test asset, dubbed T1, at MidAmerica Airport in Illinois, this time with a test squadron of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, the service and company announced today.
The squadron approached T1 and “performed formation evaluations, wake surveys, drogue tracking and plugs with the MQ-25 test asset at 220 knots calibrated airspeed (KCAS) and 10,000 feet,” according to a Navy statement. The Navy and Boeing in conducted the first MQ-25 refueling exercise in June using a Super Hornet.
The MQ-25 Stingray is the Navy’s new unmanned aerial tanker designed to operate off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Boeing was awarded a contract to design and produce the Stingray in 2018. Beyond the refueling mission, MQ-25 is an integral part of the Navy’s plan to reduce its strike fighter shortfall by relieving the Super Hornets of that mission.
The company is under contract to manufacture the first two of seven MQ-25 aircraft as well as two ground test articles. Initial operating capability is targeted for fiscal year 2024.
“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, in a service statement. “This flight keeps us on a fast track to getting the 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.”
With the test assets performing well in exercises, the service is poised to begin actively preparing the fleet to receive the new aircraft.
“The Navy will begin standing up the fleet replacement squadron, Unmanned Carrier-Launched Multi Role Squadron (VUQ) 10, later this year followed by two MQ-25A squadrons, VUQ-11 and 12,” according to a Navy statement. Those squadrons will deploy detachments to aircraft carriers.
VUQ-10 will be responsible for training crew on operating the MQ-25 in advance of the aircraft reaching the fleet, while VUQ-11 and VUQ-12 will be operational MQ-25 squadrons located on the West and East Coasts, respectively, Jamie Cosgrove, a Navy spokeswoman told Breaking Defense.
Navy, Boeing Refuel E-2D Using MQ-25 Demonstrator – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Justin Katz for breakingdefense.com