The US Navy and Boeing have successfully conducted deck handling demonstration of MQ-25 uncrewed aerial refueler aboard the USS George HW Bush (CVN 77).
The testing involved the use of the Boeing-owned T1 test asset and the manoeuvres were carried out on a US Navy aircraft carrier for the first time.
During an underway demonstration aboard the Nimitz-class supercarrier, Navy flight deck directors, called as “yellow shirts”, used standard hand signals to direct T1.
The demonstration was meant to ensure MQ-25’s seamless integration into carrier operations. It included connecting the vehicle to the catapult and clearing the landing area.
US Navy Unmanned Carrier Aviation programme manager Chad Reed said: “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.
“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.”
The event also sought to evaluate the functionality, capability and handling qualities of the deck handling system in day/night conditions.
MQ-25 chief engineer Jim Young said: “The Navy has a rigorous, well-established process for moving aircraft on the carrier. Our goal was to ensure the MQ-25 fits into the process without changing it.
“From the design of the aircraft to the design of the system moving it, our team has worked hard to make the MQ-25 carrier suitable in every way.”
In September this year, US Navy and Boeing completed a carrier-based aircraft uncrewed refuelling mission with a F-35C Lightning II for the first time.