Boeing will build the U.S. Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft, the MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueler, through an $805 million contract awarded on August 30, 2018.
Boeing was awarded the engineering and manufacturing development contract to provide four aircraft. Boeing plans to perform the MQ-25 Stingray work in St. Louis.
«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».
MQ-25 Stingray is designed to provide the U.S. Navy with a much-needed refueling capability. According to the U.S. Navy, the MQ-25 Stingray will allow for better use of combat strike fighters by extending the range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II aircraft. MQ-25 Stingray will also seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.
«MQ-25A is a hallmark acquisition program», said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James F. Geurts. «This program is a great example of how the acquisition and requirements communities work hand in hand to rapidly deliver capabilities to our Sailors and Marines in the fleet».
When operational, MQ-25 Stingray will improve the performance, efficiency, and safety of the carrier air wing and provide longer range and greater persistence tanking capability to execute missions that otherwise could not be performed.
«This is an historic day», said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson. «We will look back on this day and recognize that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the airwing – all at relevant speed. Everyone who helped achieve this milestone should be proud we’re here. But we have a lot more to do. It’s not the time to take our foot off the gas. Let’s keep charging».
The award is the culmination of a competitive source selection process supported by personnel from Naval Air Systems Command and the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office (PMA-268) at Patuxent River.
MQ-25 is an accelerated acquisition program that expedites decisions that will enable rapid actions with less overhead. The intent is to significantly reduce development timelines from contract award to initial operational capability by five to six years. By reducing the number of key performance parameters to mission tanking and carrier suitability, industry has increased flexibility to rapidly design a system that meets those requirements.
Boeing has been providing carrier aircraft to the U.S. Navy for more than 90 years.