General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has announced the completion of the fourth wind tunnel test of its MQ-25 design. MQ-25 is the U.S. Navy’s program to develop an unmanned refueling tanker aircraft that provides exceptional fuel give and more than doubles the strike range of the Carrier Air Wing.
During this most recent low-speed wind tunnel test, the performance of the high-lift system and spoiler-based direct lift control (DLC) were verified in the presence of a heavily instrumented flow-through duct. The results were consistent with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) predictions and further verified the aircraft’s ability to execute launch, recovery, waveoff, and bolter maneuvers on an aircraft carrier.
“The wind tunnel testing helps us to accurately predict the aircraft’s suitability for carrier operations,” said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “The test results allow us to verify the aerodynamic characteristics of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). 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.”
Previously, GA-ASI also carried out a high-speed test at NASA Ames’ 11-foot 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 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.
“Completing these low speed and transonic wind tunnel tests further supports GA-ASI’s design verification and validates our long lead manufacturing activities,” Alexander said. “This will help GA-ASI to meet the Navy’s aggressive MQ-25 development schedule.”