Boeing and the US Navy (USN) flew the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refuelling aircraft for the first time on 19 September, the manufacturer announced.
Test aircraft T1 completed an autonomous two-hour flight under the direction of Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station (GCS) at MidAmerica St Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, where the test programme is based.
As noted by Boeing, the aircraft completed an autonomous taxi and take-off and then flew a pre-determined route to validate the aircraft's basic flight functions and operations with the GCS. T1 is a Boeing-owned test asset that will be joined by four engineering development model (EDM) aircraft under a USD805 million contract awarded by the USN in August 2018.
Billed as the successor to the aborted Unmanned Carrier-Launched Aerial Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) programme, the MQ-25 Stingray will be a ship-launched aerial refuelling platform under the USN's Carrier-Based Airborne Refueling System (CBARS) requirement. In addition to its tanking role, the MQ-25 will be equipped for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in permissive airspace.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes