The US Navy and Boeing successfully maneuvered Boeing-owned T1 test equipment onto a US Navy aircraft carrier for the first time – a first step forward in ensuring that the unmanned aerial refueler MQ- 25 will integrate seamlessly with the carrier’s operations.
During an ongoing demonstration aboard the USS George HW Bush (CVN 77), the Navy cockpit directors – known as the “yellow shirts” – used standard hand signals to direct the T1 like any other on-board aircraft. Instead of a pilot taking the controls, however, it was a Boeing MQ-25 Deck Handling Operator (DHO) right next to the “yellow shirt” that controlled the plane using a new control device. portable bridge control.
“This is another important step in demonstrating the integration of the MQ-25 into the Carrier Air Wing on the flight deck of our fleet’s carriers,” said Captain Chad Reed, responsible for the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program. “The success of this event is a testament to the hard work of our engineers, testers, operators and the close collaboration and teamwork of Naval Air Force Atlantic and crew aboard CVN 77.”
The demonstration aimed to ensure that the design of the MQ-25 will successfully integrate into the carrier’s environment and to assess the functionality, capability and handling qualities of the bridge handling system both under daylight conditions. and at night. The maneuvers included taxiing on the bridge, connecting to the catapult, clearing the landing pad and parking on the bridge.
“The Navy has a rigorous and well-established process for moving planes on the carrier. Our goal was to ensure that the MQ-25 fits into the process without changing it, ”said Jim Young, Chief Engineer, MQ-25. “From designing the aircraft to designing the system that moves it, our team has worked hard to make the MQ-25 aircraft carrier suitable in every way.”
DHOs trained in the Boeing Bridge Manipulation Simulation Lab in St. Louis, where they practiced entering commands from simulated “yellow shirts” into the real handheld device. A simulated MQ-25, executing actual operational flight code and aircraft interfaces, would move accordingly. The Handheld Controller is a simple, easy-to-use device designed specifically for a generation of sailors who natively understand this handheld technology and have experience with the controllers used in the gaming industry today.
The bridge handling demonstration followed a two-year flight test campaign for the Boeing-owned T1 test asset, in which the Boeing and Navy team refueled three planes different carriers – an F / A-18 Super Hornet, an E-2D Hawkeye and an F-35C Lightning II.
“The Navy has given us two key performance metrics for the program – in-flight refueling and on-board integration of the aircraft carrier,” said Dave Bujold, Boeing MQ-25 program director. “We have shown that the MQ-25 can meet both requirements, and we did so years earlier than traditional acquisition programs. “