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.”

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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.