US Navy MQ-25 Stingray will Double Range of F-35C
Boeing recently won the contract to manufacture the KC-46 Pegasus tanker, a next-generation USAF aerial refueling aircraft that’s replacing the aging KC-135 Stratotanker. We are proud to create a critical fastener for the Pegasus.
Which is why we are excited to share the news that Boeing has also won the contract to create US Navy’s next-generation tanker, the MQ-25 Stingray, which is being called an “aerial gas station. Obviously that description belies its true importance.
The US Navy MQ-25 Stingray is an uncrewed, carrier-based tanker aircraft that will extend the range of US Navy carrier-based fighters and allow aircraft carriers to remain out of range of increasingly sophisticated coastal defenses.
It’s seen as an essential tool in the US Navy’s deterrence role in the Western Pacific, especially as the Chinese military places more anti-ship ballistic missiles and other defenses on man-made islands in the South China Sea.
MQ-25 Stingray: More than a Aerial Gas Station
The requirements provided by the US Navy to Lockheed, Boeing and General Atomics — who were all competing for the contract — were as follows: an unmanned aircraft capable of launching from a carrier deck and delivering 14,000 pounds to an aircraft 500 nautical miles away, essentially doubling the range of F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35C Joint Strike Fighter attack missions.
According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, the MQ-25 “represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements” and how the US Navy integrates unmanned and manned aircraft.
Initial operating capability for the MQ-25 Stingray is expected by 2024. Boeing could deliver up to 72 at a total cost of $13 billion.
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