Boeing and the US Navy’s MQ-25, their latest aerial refuelling UAV, earlier this month completed its first test flight carrying an aerial refuelling pod.
The successful 2.5-hour flight with the aerial refuelling store (ARS) tested the aircraft’s aerodynamics with the pod mounted under the left-wing. The flight was carried out by Boeing test pilots from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport.
Check out these additional views of #MQ25 with the aerial refueling pod! This is our test asset’s first flight with the equipment that will help refuel @USNavy fighter aircraft. pic.twitter.com/TuGTxaGovE
— Boeing Defense (@BoeingDefense) December 10, 2020
Ongoing flights allow for the development of software components and testing of the aerial refuelling hardware MQ-25 will use operationally. Boeing stated that the MQ-25 will soon be tested on an aircraft carrier deck.
Following its first flight last year, the model accumulated approximately 30 hours in the air before the planned modification to install the ARS.”
The Navy intends to procure more than 70 aircraft, which will take over the tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s, allowing for better use of the combat strike fighters.