Boeing receives $805M MQ-25 contract
Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler, known as T1, is currently being tested at Boeing’s St. Louis site. T1 has completed engine runs and deck handling demonstrations designed to prove the agility and ability of the aircraft to move around within the tight confines of a carrier deck. (Photo: Eric Shindelbower, Boeing)
Boeing will build the U.S. Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft, the MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueler, through an US$805 million ($1.1 billion) contract. Boeing was awarded the engineering and manufacturing development contract to provide four aircraft. It plans to perform the MQ-25 work in St. Louis.
According to a report by Megan Eckstein and Sam LaGrone of the U.S. Naval Institute’s online portal Usni.org, the Navy expects the first airframes to begin flying by 2021 and the first four Stingrays should reach operational capability on carrier decks in 2024. After this contract is complete, covering the design and production of the four Stingray airframes for testing, Usni.org reports the Navy plans to buy 72 more vehicles with a total program cost of about US$13 billion ($17 billion).
“As a company, we made an investment in both our team and in an unmanned aircraft system that meets the U.S. Navy’s refueling requirements,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “The fact that we’re already preparing for first flight is thanks to an outstanding team who understands the Navy and their need to have this important asset on carrier decks around the world.”
The MQ-25 Stingray is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with what Boeing describes as a much-needed refueling capability. It will allow for better use of combat strike fighters, according to the Navy, by extending the range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C aircraft. The MQ-25 will also integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems. Boeing has been providing carrier aircraft to the U.S. Navy for more than 90 years.
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