Boeing to build U.S. Navy's first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft

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On Aug. 30, the U.S. Navy awarded Boeing an $805 million contract to build the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aircraft, the MQ-25 aerial refueler, selecting the company over bids from Lockheed Martin and General Atomics.

Boeing was awarded the engineering and manufacturing development contract to provide an initial four aircraft.

“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,” says 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.”

Designed to provide the U.S. Navy with a “much-needed” refueling capability, the MQ-25 Stingray will extend the range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C aircraft, thus allowing for better use of combat strike fighters.

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

“This is an historic day,” says Chief of Naval Operations Adm. 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.”