General Atomics Aeronautical Systems successfully tested Pratt & Whitney’s PW815 turbofan engine on an inlet and exhaust mock-up for its proposed MQ-25 unmanned air vehicle on 5 April.

The test met all objectives and the joint team is now further evaluating data collected from that test, according to the airframe. The company announced in February that it had selected the PW815 to power its proposed unmanned refuelling aircraft for the US Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray programme.

The PW815 is rated at 16,000lb-thrust (71kN), which is substantially more than the proposed engine for Lockheed Martin’s MQ-25 bid – the 10,000lb-thrust GE Aviation F404, and that used on Boeing’s candidate: a 9,000lb-thrust version of the Rolls-Royce AE3007.

MQ-25 & F-35

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

General Atomics notes that its engine testing was performed at short notice. The test stand was commissioned at the beginning of 2018, a PW815 engine was delivered to its facility on 5 March, by early April the team performed the first test.

“GA-ASI has a 14-year history working with P&W, and selected the PW815 engine for the MQ-25 based on its exceptional performance and fuel efficiency,” says David Alexander, the manufacturer's president of aircraft systems. “This performance and efficiency will subsequently translate into more available fuel for the receiving aircraft. Additionally, initial studies have shown the PW815 is well-suited for a carrier environment.”

The General Atomics/P&W team will continue risk-reduction testing in anticipation of the USN’s MQ-25 selection in the coming months, it says.

The PW815 also powers Gulfstream's G500 and G600 twin-engined business jets. The G500 is close to completing US Federal Aviation Administration certification testing and is scheduled to be delivered to a customer later this year after a delay of several months.