General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has completed the fourth wind tunnel test of its MQ-25 design, the company announced on 31 July.
MQ-25 is the US Navy’s programme to develop an unmanned refueling tanker for the embarked carrier air wing.
During the low-speed wind tunnel test, the performance of the high-lift system and spoiler-based direct lift control of the MQ-25 were verified in the presence of a heavily instrumented flow-through duct.
The results were consistent with computational fluid dynamics predictions and verified the aircraft’s ability to execute launch, recovery, waveoff and bolter manoeuvres on an aircraft carrier, according to an official statement.
Previously, GA-ASI also carried out a high-speed test at NASA Ames’ 11ft transonic wind tunnel. Results from that test established the aerodynamic characteristics that are needed to verify the mission performance of the vehicle.
Additional tests are planned during the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase, such as flowing inlet, powered exhaust and ice shape tests to further validate the aerodynamic design characteristics. EMD wind tunnel tests will conclude with a special high-speed test to focus on the safe separation of the aerial refueling store and external fuel tank.
David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI, said: ‘The test results allow us to verify the aerodynamic characteristics of the unmanned aerial vehicle. These tests are critical to the validation of the system’s ‘up and away’ mission performance and will subsequently lower technical performance risk for the navy customer.
‘Completing these low speed and transonic wind tunnel tests further supports GA-ASI’s design verification and validates our long lead manufacturing activities.’