“The Stingray represents the future of naval aviation,” declared US Naval Air Force Atlantic Commander Rear Admiral John Meier. It is the first unmanned aerial vehicle to be launched from an aircraft carrier (UAV). “Ground testing is another step toward the integration of human and unmanned aircraft systems,” he added. Integrating systems such as the MQ-25 into air wings would boost their lethality and range.”“What we’re doing today is deck handling,” said Rick Schramm, the material review board’s technical lead engineer. “We have a technology put on the plane that allows the aircraft to have engines up, power going, and taxing by deck controls.”Schramm utilises painted lines to separate portions of the flight deck to demonstrate how the MQ-25 might manoeuvre on-board an aircraft carrier.The MQ-25 is the Navy’s first step toward its strategic objective of unified, interoperable networks and systems architecture. It lays the path for introducing future unmanned technologies to the air wing and aircraft carrier environments.According to Chief Aviation Machinist Mate Michael Solle, the MQ-25’s capabilities will allow the F/A-18 to return to its core mission set, increase its striking range, and improve manoeuvrability.The Boeing-owned MQ-25 just completed its first aerial refuelling of an F-35C Lightning II fighter, marking the test aircraft’s third refuelling flight evolution. When fully operational, the MQ-25 will be able to refuel any carrier-based aircraft equipped with a receiver.The MQ-25 is intended to be one of the Navy’s fastest major defence acquisition programs to reach initial operational capability.