Boeing Defense MQ-25 UAV Boeing / Eric Shindelbower
This proposed MQ-25 unmanned aircraft system is completing engine runs before “deck handling” demonstrations begin next year, the developer noted.

Boeing Unveils Refueling Drone for Aircraft

US Navy RFQ seeks designs that will extend the combat range of carrier-based fighters

Boeing Defense, Space & Security released views of the unmanned aerial vehicle it will submit for consideration by the U.S. Navy in its request for proposals on a new fighter-jet refueling system.

The MQ-25 (or MQ-25A Stingray) is the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s is a planned, carrier-based unmanned combat aerial system. The proposals are due for submission on January 3. Other entries are expected from General Atomics and Lockheed Martin. Northrop Grumman had earlier entered the competition but withdrew its interest in October, indicating it would be unable to meet the terms of service.

Boeing did not elaborate on the UAV’s design or capabilities. It indicated the aircraft is completing engine runs now and will proceed to deck handling demonstrations early next year.

The U.S. Navy is seeking an unmanned refueling aircraft that will extend the combat range of several fighter aircraft, including the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter. The MQ-25 also will be expected to work within the USN’s established carrier-based catapult and launch and recovery systems. 

“Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for almost 90 years,” stated Don ‘BD’ Gaddis, a retired admiral head for Boeing Defense’s Phantom Works refueling system program.

“Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach,” he continued. “We will be ready for flight testing when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded.”

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