The Boeing MQ-25A Stingray programme has made big strides over the last few weeks. In mid-November 2021, the US Navy and Boeing completed a series of ground tests at Naval Station Norfolk/Chambers Field (VA).
On 2 December 2021 it was announced that the Stingray arrived aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) for its first test period aboard an aircraft carrier. The Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test model was lifted aboard the carrier on 30 November.
The ground tests at NS Norfolk consisted mainly of deck handling test. Rick Schramm, the technical lead engineer explains, "We have a system installed on the airplane that allows the aircraft to be engines up, power running and taxing by controllers on the deck." Painted lines are used to section areas of the flight deck in order to test how the MQ-25A is able to maneuver on board an aircraft carrier. Passing these critical tests allowed the MQ-25A to move to the next test phase aboard an aircraft carrier.
In the meantime Boeing started production on seven Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) aircraft that will be used for further testing at the Boeing facility in St. Louis (MO). Once those tests are completed these models will move to Naval Air Station Patuxent River (MD) for the flight test programme.
The US Navy hopes to have the MQ-25A reach Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in 2025. On 8 June 2021, Scramble Magazine reported on the first air-refueling flight of the Stingray.
Photos by US Navy