Boeing has been awarded a $805 million contract for design, delivery and support of four MQ-25 unmanned drones based on aircraft carriers that will be used to refuel aircraft for the U.S. Navy, the Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday.
The Navy published a request for proposals in 2017 that sought a drone that could refuel, and extend the combat range, of fighter jets including Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets, Boeing EA-18G Growlers and Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters.
The Navy said it expected the contract to be completed in 2024 and that Boeing won the deal over two other bidders.
Boeing said the MQ-25 is the US Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned 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,” 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 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.