Boeing and Northrop Grumman conducted a virtual manned-unmanned teaming demonstration using the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueler, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne command-and-control aircraft and the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet.
The Office of Naval Research sponsored the demonstration, which used Northrop’s portable E-2D simulator and simulations of Boeing’s MQ-25 and Super Hornet aircraft, Boeing said Tuesday.
E-2D played the “tanker king” role while Stingray refueled the fighter jet and directed the drone during an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission in the virtual demonstration.
“Two of our key findings from this early demonstration with existing data links are that initial MUM-T capability between MQ-25, E-2D and F/A-18 is achievable with minimal change to the crew vehicle interface and could be integrated into earlier MQ-25 operational deployments,” said Don “BD” Gaddis, who oversees MQ-25 advanced design at Boeing.
MUM-T is one of the key capabilities included in the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Campaign Framework.
The Boeing-led team also demonstrated an open behavioral software framework and carrier air wing concepts, including scenarios where E-2D and Super Hornet alter the unmanned tanker’s aerial refueling store payload, orbit station and flight path.
“As a result, pilots can call a ‘play’ for the unmanned system, much like a coach,” Gaddis said. “This ‘play call’ ability greatly simplifies the supervising pilot’s workload and minimizes the data link exchanges required. It’s all part of building platform-agnostic, portable and reusable MUM-T software.”