Here’s Boeing Submission To The U.S. Navy MQ-25 Stingray Unmanned Carrier Aviation Air System Competition

Dec 19 2017 - 13 Comments

Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aircraft system has been unveiled.

After teasing its shape with a mysterious tweet that included a photograph of an aircraft under protective cover on Dec. 14, as planned, Boeing has unveiled a better (still, partial) view of its submission to the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned carrier aviation air system competition (UCAAS).

Through its MQ-25 competition (with final proposals due on Jan. 3, 2018), the U.S. Navy plans to procure unmanned refueling capabilities that would extend the combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters. The UCAAS will operate from both land bases and the flight deck of its Nimitz- and future Ford-class aircraft carriers, seamlessly integrating with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems. The induction of the new tanker drone will offload some aerial refueling duties from the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet.

“Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to the Navy for almost 90 years,” said Don ‘BD’ Gaddis, a retired admiral who leads the refueling system program for Boeing’s Phantom Works technology organization, in a company public release. “Our expertise gives us confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is awarded.”

According to Boeing the UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations early next year.

The Navy issued its final request for proposals in October. Proposals are due Jan. 3.

With Northrop Grumman withdrawing from the competition in October 2017, Boeing, General Atomics, and Lockheed Martin are the three aerospace company competing for the initial development contract. The U.S. Navy has a requirement for 72 tanker drones, even though the service will initially only buy four examples of the winning design in order to assess whether the winner will be able to meet all the requirements before handing out any larger production deals.

Top image: Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower

  • Ryan Lambert
  • leroy

    Interesting. A lot hidden. We see an all-moving V-tail or “ruddervator”, probably a weapons bay/fuel bladder (dual configuration for future expansion into a strike platform?) in the center indicative of a fuselage section, and a lifting-body nose much like that on the F-35. Actually we see lifting-body aerodynamics as a central feature of this UAV. It’s is no flying-wing, that’s for sure, but a design much along the lines of the YF-23. Looking forward to seeing what they did with the intake(s) and exhaust nozzle(s). Knowing how the Navy thinks, I’ll guess dual engine.

    Oh – subsonic.

    • McPosterdoor

      Less need for dual engine when there’s no meatware on board, good post.

      • leroy

        Agreed, and I corrected my assessment.

  • leroy

    Then again, maybe single-engine. Who cares if a drone is lost at sea? Beyond the cost of equipment. It certainly is a stealth design.

  • leroy

    Probably a single large air intake, oval, sitting on top.

  • McPosterdoor

    Unmanned steath tankers and AWACs, need em.

  • Chris

    From this angle and the teaser image, I wonder if it’s using a Pelikan tail?

  • J Storm

    Another drone for the Navy? Hows the X-47 working out? Oh yeah, it’s not. Waste of money and resources if you only do R&D.

  • Chugs 1984

    why couldn’t the carriers, deploy large balloons with bladders of fuel to high altitudes where high speed winds would propel to speeds high enough for fighters to connect to the bladders inflight and refuel?

    cheap, utterly automated and could actually launched via other vessels (thus not displacing any of the fighters on the deck)

    • Kevin


  • Jordan Erhardt

    Looks like a derivate of the General Atomics Avenger (Predator C).
    I have to say I am a bit disappointed they did not go for a flying wing design, which would lend itself nicely for a tanker drone. On the other hand it was probably better to modify an already existing system to save some dollars.

  • Terry Pens

    Not a single russi paid troll has shown up, nice!