SECO USA, Inc. announces the successful demonstration of a new deck control device (DCD) to be used for controlling the MQ-25TM StingrayTM unmanned aerial refueler on U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.
The MQ-25, designed and developed by Boeing, will be the Navy’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft. The operator-worn, remote-control DCD was successfully tested earlier this month during a multi-day demonstration featuring Navy and Boeing personnel simulating carrier-based operations at MidAmerica St. Louis
The airport in Mascoutah, Ill. The demonstration preceded carrier-based sea trials to take place in the coming months.
Unlike most unmanned vehicle controllers, the DCD includes several features and functions specific to aircraft carrier-based vehicles. It consists of multiple assemblies, including a heads-up handheld control grip, an arm-mounted display unit, a waist-worn battery-operated processor unit, and a military-grade radio. SECO USA designed the circuitry, operating system software, packaging, and integrated critical subassemblies. In the process, SECO USA pushed the envelope through an agile process of iterative design to optimize human factors and ergonomics while meeting strict technical requirements such as safety-critical redundancy and operation in a harsh electromagnetic environment.
The DCD has a simple, user-friendly interface designed to enhance aircraft handling operations by highly trained aircraft carrier personnel, as well as a mobile remote control resulting in a device that is capable of withstanding the complex nature of an aircraft carrier deck. To complete the deck handling system, SECO USA also ruggedized a matching set of air vehicle-mounted radios to meet MQ-25 flight worthiness specifications.
“Based on Boeing’s challenging concept and requirements for the DCD, we are excited to deliver a pioneering remote vehicle control solution,” said Tien Chuang, Chief Operating Officer of SECO USA. “With the DCD design, SECO USA has demonstrated the value of bringing our cross-industry expertise, working in close collaboration with our Boeing and U.S. Navy partners. This affirms our history of delivering rugged product, including handheld, battery-operated devices, to the most demanding of applications.”
“Our goal is to ensure we are seamlessly integrating all components of the MQ-25 onto the carrier deck”, Rhiannon Sherrard, director of Training Aircraft and Autonomous Systems for Boeing Global Services. “Seeing the deck control device hardware and software work in concert with the aircraft and the personnel who control it is a major step forward, and we’re looking forward to continued demonstrations.”