Boeing has secured a contract modification for three additional MQ-25 unmanned aerial refuelling aircraft from the US Navy.

The latest contract, which is valued at $84.7m, will bring the total number of MQ-25 aircraft to be manufactured by Boeing to seven.

The modification was an option identified in the original contract and exercises options for three MQ-25 system test articles.

Originally, the $805m contract was awarded to Boeing in August 2018 for the manufacturing of four aircraft.

The early flight testing of Boeing-manufactured MQ-25 test asset T1 in September last year has helped to progress the contract further.

The results of the first round of flight testing for T1 revealed that the MQ-25 has the capacity to remain in the air at various speeds and altitudes for nearly 30 hours.

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A planned modification of the aircraft is currently underway.

The aircraft upgrade includes the installation of an aerial refuelling store (ARS) under the left wing.

The flight testing with the ARS is expected to resume later this year.

Boeing MQ-25 programme director Dave Bujold said: “We’re honoured to have the navy’s confidence in our system design and performance that is evident from this additional order.

“This order establishes uninterrupted production of the first MQ-25 aircraft and lines up with the navy’s MQ-25 test and training plans for fleet introduction.

“The MQ-25 programme is vital in ensuring the navy can deliver a critical unmanned aerial refuelling capability to the carrier air wing.”

Last month, Boeing delivered the first upgraded F/A-18 Super Hornet jet to the US Navy. The delivery was made under the service life modification (SLM) contract.