US Navy selects Boeing MQ-25 Stingray design for unmanned carrier borne tanker

Boeing will build the U.S. Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft, the MQ-25A Stingray aerial refueler, through an $805 million contract awarded on Aug. 30

This fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract provides for the design, development, fabrication, test, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing for an initial operational capability by 2024.



Boeing was awarded the engineering and manufacturing development contract to provide four aircraft. Boeing plans to perform the MQ-25 work in St. Louis.

When operational, MQ-25 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.

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.

MQ-25 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 aircraft. MQ-25 will also seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.

The system will be a critical part of the future CVW and will enhance carrier capability and versatility for the Joint Forces Commander through the integration of a persistent, sea-based aerial refueling Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) into the CVW.

US Navy requires the MQ-25 to have at least 500 nautical mile flight range and ability to unload 15,000 lb fuel load.

The other contenders included Lockheed Martin, General Atomics and Northrop Grumman.