Tag Archives: MQ-25 Stingray

Mission with F-35C

The U.S. Navy and Boeing have used the MQ-25TM T1 test asset to refuel a U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II fighter jet for the first time, once again demonstrating the aircraft’s ability to achieve its primary aerial refueling mission.

MQ-25 Stingray
Boeing’s MQ-25 T1 test asset transfers fuel to a U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II fighter jet Sept. 13 during a flight-test mission. The U.S. Navy and Boeing have conducted three refueling flights in the past three months, including an F/A-18 Super Hornet and E-2D Hawkeye (Kevin Flynn photo)

This was the third refueling mission for the Boeing-owned test asset in just over three months, advancing the test program for the U.S. Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft. T1 refueled an F/A-18 Super Hornet in June and an E-2D Hawkeye in August.

«Every test flight with another Type/Model/Series aircraft gets us one step closer to rapidly delivering a fully mission-capable MQ-25 Stingray to the fleet», said Captain Chad Reed, the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. «Stingray’s unmatched refueling capability is going to increase the U.S. Navy’s power projection and provide operational flexibility to the Carrier Strike Group commanders».

During a test flight September 13, an F-35C Lightning II test pilot from the U.S. Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23) conducted a successful wake survey behind T1 to ensure performance and stability before making contact with T1’s aerial refueling drogue and receiving fuel.

«This flight was yet another physical demonstration of the maturity and stability of the MQ-25 Stingray aircraft design», said Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 Stingray program director. «Thanks to this latest mission in our accelerated test program, we are confident the MQ-25 Stingray aircraft we are building right now will meet the U.S. Navy’s primary requirement – delivering fuel safely to the carrier air wing».

The T1 flight test program began in September 2019 with the aircraft’s first flight. In the following two years, the test program completed more than 120 flight hours – gathering data on everything from aircraft performance to propulsion dynamics to structural loads and flutter testing for strength and stability.

MQ-25 Stingray is benefitting from the two years of early flight test data, which has been integrated back into its digital models to strengthen the digital thread connecting aircraft design to production to test to operations and sustainment. Boeing is currently manufacturing the first two MQ-25 Stingray test aircraft.

T1 will be used to conduct a deck handling demonstration aboard a U.S. Navy carrier in the coming months to help advance the carrier integration progress.

Stingray and Hawkeye

The U.S. Navy and Boeing have completed a second carrier-based aircraft unmanned refueling mission with the Boeing-owned MQ-25TM T1 test asset, this time refueling a Navy E-2D Hawkeye command and control aircraft.

MQ-25 Stingray
Boeing’s MQ-25 T1 test asset refuels a U.S. Navy E-2D Hawkeye command and control aircraft August 18 during a flight test mission conducted from MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. The flight followed the historic June 4 refueling of a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet, the first time an unmanned aircraft had refueled another aircraft (Credit: Kate Lowry)

During a test flight from MidAmerica St. Louis Airport on August 18, pilots from the U.S. Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-20 conducted a successful wake survey behind MQ-25 T1 to ensure performance and stability before making contact with T1’s aerial refueling drogue. The E-2D Hawkeye received fuel from T1’s aerial refueling store during the flight.

«Once operational the MQ-25 Stingray will refuel every receiver-capable platform, including E-2D Hawkeye», said Captain Chad Reed, the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. «This flight keeps us on a fast track to getting the Stingray out to the fleet where its refueling capability will greatly increase the range and operational flexibility of the carrier air wing and strike group».

The MQ-25 Stingray will be assigned to the carrier airborne early warning squadron within the carrier air wing, which currently operates the E-2 C/D Hawkeye aircraft – known as the «digital quarterback» of the fleet for its role in joint battle management and command and control.

«It was another great flight showing that our MQ-25 Stingray design is performing to plan», said Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 Stingray program director. «These historic refueling flights provide an incredible amount of data we feed back into the MQ-25 Stingray digital models to ensure the aircraft we’re producing will be the U.S. Navy’s game-changer for the carrier air wing».

This is the second aerial refueling mission the MQ-25 Stingray team has conducted this summer. On June 4, the MQ-25 T1 test asset became the first unmanned aircraft to refuel another aircraft, a U.S. Navy Super Hornet. Both flights were conducted at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes, with the E-2D Hawkeye and F/A-18 Super Hornet performing maneuvers in close proximity to MQ-25 T1.

Boeing is currently manufacturing the first two of seven MQ-25 Stingray test aircraft and two ground test articles currently under contract. The Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset is a predecessor to these aircraft. The MQ-25 Stingray is leveraging advancements in model-based digital engineering and design, and ongoing flights are intended to test aircraft design and performance much earlier than traditional programs.

Aerial refueling mission

For the first time in history, the U.S. Navy and Boeing have demonstrated air-to-air refueling using an unmanned aircraft – the Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset – to refuel another aircraft.

MQ-25 T1
The Boeing MQ-25 T1 test asset transfers fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet on June 4, marking the first time in history that an unmanned aircraft has refueled another aircraft. The MQ-25 Stingray will assume the carrier-based tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s, allowing for better use of the combat strike fighters and helping extend the range of the carrier air wing (Photo by Kevin Flynn)

During a test flight June 4, MQ-25 T1 successfully extended the hose and drogue from its U.S. Navy-issued Aerial Refueling Store (ARS) and safely transferred jet fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet, demonstrating the MQ-25 Stingray’s ability to carry out its primary aerial refueling mission.

«This team of professionals was integral in the successful flight», said Rear Adm. Brian Corey, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. «Over the next few years, we will work side-by-side with Boeing to deliver this capability that will greatly enhance the future carrier air wing».

«This history-making event is a credit to our joint Boeing and Navy team that is all-in on delivering MQ-25’s critical aerial refueling capability to the fleet as soon as possible», said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. «Their work is the driving force behind the safe and secure integration of unmanned systems in the immediate future of defense operations».

During the initial part of the flight, the F/A-18 test pilot flew in close formation behind MQ-25 to ensure performance and stability prior to refueling – a maneuver that required as little as 20 feet of separation between the MQ-25 T1 air vehicle and the F/A-18 refueling probe. Both aircraft were flying at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes. With the evaluation safely completed, the MQ-25 drogue was extended, and the F/A-18 pilot moved in to «plug» with the unmanned aircraft and receive the scheduled fuel offload.

The milestone comes after 25 T1 flights, testing both aircraft and ARS aerodynamics across the flight envelope, as well as extensive simulations of aerial refueling using MQ-25 digital models. MQ-25 T1 will continue flight testing prior to being shipped to Norfolk, Virginia, for deck handling trials aboard a U.S. Navy carrier later this year.

The Boeing-owned T1 test asset is a predecessor to the seven test aircraft Boeing is manufacturing under a 2018 contract award. The MQ-25 will assume the tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s, allowing for better use of the combat strike fighters and helping extend the range of the carrier air wing.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As the top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

MQ-25 is a trademark of the Department of the Navy.

First Test Flight

Boeing and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueler on 19 September 2019.

Boeing and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueler September 19. The MQ-25 Stingray test asset, known as T1, completed the autonomous two-hour flight under the direction of Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, where the test program is based (Boeing photo)

The MQ-25 Stingray test asset, known as T1, completed the autonomous two-hour flight under the direction of Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, where the test program is based. 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.

«Seeing MQ-25 Stingray in the sky is a testament to our Boeing and U.S. Navy team working the technology, systems and processes that are helping get MQ-25 Stingray to the carrier», said Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Program Director Dave Bujold. «This aircraft and its flight test program ensure we’re delivering the MQ-25 Stingray to the carrier fleet with the safety, reliability and capability the U.S. Navy needs to conduct its vital mission».

The Boeing-owned test asset is a predecessor to the Engineering Development Model (EDM) aircraft and is being used for early learning and discovery to meet the goals of the U.S. Navy’s accelerated acquisition program. Boeing will produce four EDM MQ-25 Stingray air vehicles for the U.S. Navy under an $805 million contract awarded in August 2018.

The MQ-25 Stingray will provide the U.S. Navy with a much-needed carrier-based unmanned aerial refueling capability. It 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 U.S. 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 Stingray arrives represents the first big step in a series of early learning opportunities that are helping us progress toward delivery of a game-changing capability for the carrier air wing and strike group commanders».

T1 received its experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in September, verifying that the air vehicle meets the agency’s requirements for safe flight. Testing will continue with T1 to further early learning and discovery that advances major systems and software development.

Boeing MQ-25 Unmanned Aerial Refueler Completes First Test Flight

Tanker Drone

Rolls-Royce engines have been selected by Boeing to power the U.S. Navy’s new MQ-25 Stingray aircraft, which will provide unmanned, carrier-based air-to-air refuelling.

Rolls-Royce to power Boeing MQ-25 aircraft for U.S. Navy
Rolls-Royce to power Boeing MQ-25 aircraft for U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy has awarded the MQ-25A engineering and manufacturing contract to Boeing to provide four aircraft. The MQ-25 is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with a much-needed refuelling capability and extend the range of combat aircraft from carriers.

Each MQ-25 aircraft will be powered by a single Rolls-Royce AE 3007N engine, manufactured in Indianapolis, U.S. The AE 3007N, the latest variant of the Rolls-Royce AE family of engines, will provide more than 10,000 lbs./4,536 kg of thrust and additional electrical power to the aircraft.

Jarrett Jones, Rolls-Royce, Executive Vice President, Customer Business, Government Relations and Sales, said: «Congratulations to Boeing for being selected to develop this historic aircraft in support of the U.S. Navy. For Rolls-Royce, it will expand our Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) expertise with unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Navy fleet, which includes the Triton and Fire Scout aircraft».

The proven Rolls-Royce AE family of engines includes turbofan, turboprop and turboshaft variants, and the total AE engine fleet has accumulated more than 74 million engine flight hours. AE engines power aircraft for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and a variety of military and civilian aircraft in service around the world. Rolls-Royce has delivered nearly 7,000 AE engines from the company’s advanced manufacturing facility in Indianapolis.

The AE 3007H turbofan engine powers the U.S. Navy’s Triton and the Air Force Global Hawk, as well as commercial and business aviation aircraft. The AE 2100 turboprop powers the Lockheed Martin C-130J and LM-100J, as well as the C-27J and Saab 2000; and the AE 1107C turboshaft powers the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey operated by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. The MT7, a marinized variant of the AE 1107, will power the U.S. Navy’s Ship-to-Shore Connector hovercraft.

MQ-25 Stingray

Boeing will build the U.S. Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft, the MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueler, through an $805 million contract awarded on August 30, 2018.

Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler, known as T1, is currently being tested at Boeing’s St. Louis site. T1 has completed engine runs and deck handling demonstrations designed to prove the agility and ability of the aircraft to move around within the tight confines of a carrier deck (Photo: Eric Shindelbower, Boeing)
Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler, known as T1, is currently being tested at Boeing’s St. Louis site. T1 has completed engine runs and deck handling demonstrations designed to prove the agility and ability of the aircraft to move around within the tight confines of a carrier deck (Photo: Eric Shindelbower, Boeing)

Boeing was awarded the engineering and manufacturing development contract to provide four aircraft. Boeing plans to perform the MQ-25 Stingray work in St. Louis.

«As a company, we made an investment in both our team and in an unmanned aircraft system that meets the U.S. Navy’s refueling requirements», said Leanne Caret, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. «The fact that we’re already preparing for first flight is thanks to an outstanding team who understands the Navy and their need to have this important asset on carrier decks around the world».

MQ-25 Stingray is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with a much-needed refueling capability. According to the U.S. Navy, the MQ-25 Stingray will allow for better use of combat strike fighters by extending the range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II aircraft. MQ-25 Stingray will also seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.

«MQ-25A is a hallmark acquisition program», said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James F. Geurts. «This program is a great example of how the acquisition and requirements communities work hand in hand to rapidly deliver capabilities to our Sailors and Marines in the fleet».

When operational, MQ-25 Stingray will improve the performance, efficiency, and safety of the carrier air wing and provide longer range and greater persistence tanking capability to execute missions that otherwise could not be performed.

«This is an historic day», said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson. «We will look back on this day and recognize that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the airwing – all at relevant speed. Everyone who helped achieve this milestone should be proud we’re here. But we have a lot more to do. It’s not the time to take our foot off the gas. Let’s keep charging».

The award is the culmination of a competitive source selection process supported by personnel from Naval Air Systems Command and the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office (PMA-268) at Patuxent River.

MQ-25 is an accelerated acquisition program that expedites decisions that will enable rapid actions with less overhead. The intent is to significantly reduce development timelines from contract award to initial operational capability by five to six years. By reducing the number of key performance parameters to mission tanking and carrier suitability, industry has increased flexibility to rapidly design a system that meets those requirements.

Boeing has been providing carrier aircraft to the U.S. Navy for more than 90 years.

File photo dated January 29, 2018. Boeing conducts MQ-25 deck handling demonstration at its facility in St. Louis, Missouri (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of The Boeing Co./Released)
File photo dated January 29, 2018. Boeing conducts MQ-25 deck handling demonstration at its facility in St. Louis, Missouri (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of The Boeing Co./Released)

Stingray

Boeing for the first time is showing what it believes is the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) best suited for refueling U.S. Navy jets operating from aircraft carriers.

Boeing’s MQ-25 Unmanned Aircraft System is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations next year. The aircraft is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters (Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)
Boeing’s MQ-25 Unmanned Aircraft System is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations next year. The aircraft is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters (Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)

Through its MQ-25 competition, the U.S. Navy is seeking unmanned refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters. The MQ-25 will also have to seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.

«Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for almost 90 years», said Don ‘BD’ Gaddis, a retired admiral who leads the refueling system program for Boeing’s Phantom Works technology organization. «Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded».

The UAS is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations early next year.

The U.S. Navy issued its final request for proposals in October. Proposals are due January 3.