Boeing has digitally demonstrated a new open autonomy architecture for the MQ-25 that will allow the US Navy to increase mission effectiveness by integrating crew-associated capability (MUM-T) at speed and scale.
Boeing press release
The non-proprietary architecture, based on the government-owned Open Mission System specification, is the basis of the advanced MUM-T. A Boeing-led team virtually demonstrated how other aircraft can utilize the MQ-25’s architecture and task it to perform refueling and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions – all in the mission airspace and without traditional communications with the on-board ground control station. .
Boeing’s MUM-T demonstration included that of Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye command and control aircraftthe Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft and the Boeing aircraft F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet fighter jet. Using their operational flight program software and existing data links, the aircraft safely and efficiently loaded four autonomous virtual MQ-25s to conduct ISR missions. The F/A-18 also utilized its advanced tactical data links and Boeing’s “Project Black Ice” concept crew vehicle interface, which significantly reduced crew workload.
“Vast expanses of ocean could be monitored, identified and targeted when the MQ-25 is paired with on-board assets such as the E-2D or the P-8A ground patrol aircraft. Through this demonstration, our customers have seen how essential this digital and open approach of MUM-T is to fielding a critical combat capability at a much lower cost and with greater speed and agility.
Don “BD” Gaddis, Director, MQ-25 Advanced Design
For example, the demonstration showed how the P-8A and E-2D could easily task an MQ-25 teammate with an ISR mission specifying only the search area and no-fly zones. Using an onboard autonomy framework developed by Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, the MQ-25 did the rest autonomously, including validating the order against its operational constraints, planning of its itinerary and the conduct of its research scheme, among many other tasks.
Aurora also created and demonstrated a prototype Platform Abstraction Layer – a software boundary that decouples flight safety and MQ-25 flight-critical components from mission software and sensor hardware. This best business practice allows the integration of third party “applications” on MQ-25. Using a software development kit provided by Aurora, the Naval Air Warfare Center Aeronautical Division created a new radar search application for MQ-25 which was used successfully during the demonstration.
“Aurora’s robust software development kit allows our Navy teammates to quickly integrate new features. The Platform Abstraction Demonstration has achieved testing goals for resource sharing among multiple embedded systems and supervisors, and these efforts will significantly reduce government testing and certification costs as new capabilities are added. over time.
Graham Drozeski, Vice President of Government Programs for Aurora Flight Sciences
The demonstration was aligned with future combat capabilities in the Navy’s unmanned campaign setting. Boeing will continue to refine the range, sensors, interface swaps and crew vehicle interfaces needed for MUM-T.