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Boeing’s unmanned refueler completes first test flight

Boeing’s unmanned refueler completes first test flight

Boeing, alongside the US Navy, has successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler.

Boeing, alongside the US Navy, has successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler.

Known as T1, the MQ-25 test asset completed the autonomous two-hour flight under the command of Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station.

The aircraft completed an autonomous taxi and takeoff and then flew a pre-determined route to validate the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations with the ground control station.

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“Seeing MQ-25 in the sky is a testament to our Boeing and Navy team working the technology, systems and processes that are helping get MQ-25 to the carrier,” said Boeing MQ-25 program director Dave Bujold.

“This aircraft and its flight test program ensures we’re delivering the MQ-25 to the carrier fleet with the safety, reliability and capability the US Navy needs to conduct its vital mission.”

The US Navy said the MQ-25 will provide them with a “much-needed carrier-based unmanned aerial refueling capability” and “will allow for better use of the combat strike fighters currently performing the tanking role and will extend the range of the carrier air wing”.

“Today’s flight is an exciting and significant milestone for our program and the Navy,” said the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation (PMA-268) program manager Captain Chad Reed. 

“The flight of this test asset two years before our first MQ-25 arrives represents the first big step in a series of early learning opportunities that are helping us progress towards delivery of a game-changing capability for the carrier air wing and strike group commanders.”