The US Navy and Boeing have successfully maneuvered the Boeing MQ25 Stingray T1 test asset on a US Navy aircraft carrier for the first time an early step forward in ensuring the MQ25 unmanned aerial refueller will seamlessly integrate into carrier operations.

During a demonstration aboard the USS George H W Bush CVN 77 Navy flight deck directors known as yellow shirts used standard hand signals to direct T1 just like any other carrier based aircraft Instead of a pilot receiving the commands however it was a Boeing MQ25 Deck Handling Operator DHO standing beside the yellow shirt who commanded the aircraft using a handheld deck control device.

The demonstration was intended to evaluate the functionality of the deck handling system both in day and night conditions Maneuvers included taxying connecting to the catapult clearing the landing area and parking on the deck.

To prepare for the test the DHOs trained in Boeings deck handling simulation lab in St Louis Missouri where they practiced entering commands from simulated yellow shirts into the real handheld device Interestingly the handheld controller used by the DHOs is a device designed specifically for a generation of sailors who have experience with controllers used in the gaming industry and understand such technology instinctively.

The deck handling demonstration followed a two year flight test campaign for the Stingray T1 which also tested refuelling capabilities with three different carrier based manned types  the FA18 Super Hornet.

E2D Hawkeye and F35C Lightning II.

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