On the deck of the aircraft carrier, the MQ-25 was recently evaluated during the Stingray Integrated Test Team's Unmanned Carrier Aviation Demonstration (UCAD). The MQ-25 will be the first unmanned platform to serve on the flight decks of American aircraft carriers and will undertake the task of refueling other platforms on the air wing assigned to them.
Thanks to this refueling capability, the F/A-18 Hornet will be able to concentrate fully on the attack fighter mission set and will open the door to the integration of unmanned platforms into the carrier air wing in the future.
Boeing's T1 prototype was transferred to USS George HW Bush by UGAD (CVN 77). Flight deck directors, also known as "Yellow Shirts" because of the yellow jerseys and float coats they wear on the flight deck, traditionally assist aircraft platforms in navigating the flight deck. The pilots are supported by the Yellow Shirts as they taxi through the cramped areas of the flight deck to the catapult mechanism that hurls planes with hand signals, passing around people and other aircraft. Because the MQ-25 is an unmanned vehicle, it doesn't have the luxury of a pilot to see hand signals in the cockpit. A deck management system has been established to perform the task of taxiing and overcoming obstacles between the aircraft and its final destination, the catapult runway or parking area.
During the demonstration, T1 used Deck Operators (DO) operating radios around their belts while holding a control stick in their right hand and a small screen attached to their right forearm. The Yellow Shirt was ahead of the DOs, who used the same hand signals used on manned platforms to send commands to the aircraft via DCD.
The aircraft was able to taxi smoothly along the length of the flight deck thanks to the use of multiple DOs. Control of the aircraft was transferred to the next DO on the flight deck via an input on the forearm display when it taxied out of range of a DO. This method has been used to evaluate deck use when taxiing from the landing area, simulating post-rescue detection, entering and exiting the catapult, entering and exiting small parking areas.
Propulsion tests and lighting evaluations are two other elements of flight deck integration. Propulsion tests are used to evaluate the engine performance of an aircraft while operating in tail and crosswinds on the flight deck, while awaiting launch with an EA-18G Growler behind the jet blast deflector, at various power capacities at the catapult and at the catapult with the T1. Lighting assessments are performed at night with various flight deck light settings to determine the aircraft's appropriate illumination for night deck operations.
What is a Catapult?
A catapult, or catapult, is a device that allows the aircraft to take off from a very limited amount of space, such as the deck of a ship. It is most commonly used on aircraft carriers, but in rare cases it can be mounted on land-based runways.
A piston, shuttle, or in some cases a wire rope called a catapult string is attached to the catapult system on the runway from the front wheels of the aircraft. This rope is the towbar of the catapult. When the aircraft is ready to take off, the weight, derrick, gunpowder, flywheel, air pressure, hydraulic or steam power that will provide thrust from the catapult cylinders is suddenly released and the thrust gained from this is transferred to the aircraft by the drawbar of the catapult.
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The MQ-25 will be the first aircraft to use JPALS for fully autonomous landings on aircraft carriers, so the JPALS test was conducted simultaneously during departure using a proxy aircraft, collecting vital data for the MQ-25. Using the same hardware and software to be used for rescues by both the ship and the MQ-25, the MQ-25 test team conducted 13 approaches and collected data. After recovery is complete, the DOs take over control of the aircraft and park the MQ-25 on the flight deck using the same deck handling system.
UCAD has been successful and has provided the necessary information to reduce the risk of progression in the programme. It has also demonstrated that it is possible to safely and effectively integrate and operate the air wing on the flight decks of aircraft carriers.
📩 26/10/2022 21:42