A successful demonstration of aircraft carrier deck handling to include taxi capability and transition to the launch and recovery phases has just been completed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) using a Predator C Avenger jet aircraft as a surrogate.
The recently concluded test demonstrated that the new carrier-based MQ-25 unmanned tanker can integrate with the complexities of existing flight deck operations.
“MQ-25 will need to integrate seamlessly with the Carrier Air Wing regardless of whether the aircraft is conducting flight or deck operations,” says David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “This demonstration proves that the GA-ASI solution will integrate into existing ship operations, and that translates into less time spent steaming into the wind for launches and recoveries.“
An especially interesting aspect of MQ-25 deck operations will be the use specially designed director wands that are the same size, shape, and weight as those used today. GA-ASI has developed unique gesture recognition algorithms in the wands that recognize standard Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures (NATOPS) flight deck director hand gestures. These are then translated and the commands sent to the MQ-25 air vehicle.
The MQ-25 receives the commands and converts them into the appropriate aircraft actions. Directors fully control aircraft taxi operations on deck, including lowering/raising the launch bar, spreading/folding the wings, and raising the arresting hook.