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Boeing MQ-25 Stingray

United States (2025)
Picture of Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft Proposal
Picture of Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft Proposal Picture of Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft Proposal
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Boeing unveiled its MQ-25 Stingray unmanned tanker aircraft in a December 19th, 2017 press release.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft Proposal.  Entry last updated on 6/21/2018. Authored by Dan Alex. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The MQ-25 "Stingray" is an ongoing United States Navy (USN) project drawn up to satisfy an unmanned aerial refueling tanker aircraft product for service aboard its large fleet of aircraft carriers. Program requirements include a minimum fuel load of 14,000lb and a fly-out range of 500 miles from the host ship. Current (2018) competitors in the Stingray program are Boeing, General Atomics and Lockheed Martin. Northrop Grumman bowed out of the running voluntarily in 2017 - it was to feature its high-profile X-47B carrier-based UAS in its submission. The USN hopes to field the Stingray at an operational level by the middle of the next decade (about 2025) with a formal selection planned for August of 2018. Boeing is also part of the General Atomics initiative to better help it secure the potentially lucrative MQ-25 contract.

The 2000s saw an explosion of Unmanned Air Systems (UASs) in the military sphere so it comes as no surprise that the United States Navy (USN) has since been seeking an unmanned aerial tanker for which to field on its various aircraft carrier decks. What originally began as the USN's "Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike" (UCLAS) program has now evolved to the "Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System" (CBARS). The product was officially designated as MQ-25 "Stingray" as of July 2016.

The Boeing submission is from its secretive "Phantomworks" branch and appears to have been influenced some by the company's earlier work on the UCLASS attack drone - that requirement, in fact, having being evolved by the USN to become the unmanned tanker project. The new air vehicle was debuted by Boeing via press release on December 19th, 2017 and showcases a blended wing-body design with swept-back mainplanes. The tailplanes consist of a pair of outward-canted surfaces. The undercarriage is of a wheeled tricycle arrangement for ground-running and each main leg carries a single wheel while the nose leg is reinforced with a double-wheeled configuration. The fuselage is well-rounded and streamlined though noticeably deep from the forward profile - designed to carry the needed avionics, powerplant(s) and fuel stores. Folding wings are assumed for the design as this is something of a prerequisite for carrier-based aircraft considering space restrictions and the like.

For carrier operations, the MQ-25 is required to navigate the crowded deck of an active aircraft carrier, moving from elevator-to-catapult for launch and deck-to-elevator upon its return from a mission. This requires a unique approach to its intelligence programming to accomplish. Additionally, the aircraft will be called to operate over water for most of its service life when servicing the various USN aircraft in play - presenting another set of challenges for engineers tied to the project. Beyond this, the usual naval aviation qualities are given the aircraft - a reinforced structure / understructure to handle the rigors of carrier life, special skin coatings to combat the salty sea environment, day-night operations capabilities, and an arrestor hook for carrier deck landings. All this on top of autonomous operation and a fuel delivery functionality when working alongside manned aircraft.


Picture of the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft Proposal
Picture of the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft Proposal


The Stingray is required to refuel all types of in-service USN aircraft (as well as the upcoming F-35C Lightning II) and marks a major stepping stone for the future of naval aviation - giving at-sea aircraft the capability to be quickly and efficiently refueled by an unmanned, autonomously-minded aircraft. Such aircraft will allow fuel-laden conversions, like those made to the F/A-18 E- and F-models, to be reworked back into their combat forms. Beyond their fuel-delivery capabilities, the MQ-25s are expected to have a secondary ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) role and carry radar for maritime operations in support of the main fleet.

With the induction of the Stingray into its ranks, the USN plans to retain its deep inventory of F/A-18 Super Hornets and the newly-arriving F-35 Lightning IIs for the strike role and no longer rely on manned aerial tankers built upon existing combat aircraft frameworks. The Stingray will be used to fuel, in-flight, the various in-service platforms of the USN including the above-mentioned types.

As it stands (December 2017), Boeing states that the MQ-25 is undergoing the final phases of its engine testing and conducting basic runs. Deck-handling demonstrations are scheduled for sometime in 2018. The USN deadline for submissions in the Stingray program was January 3rd, 2018. The service plans to procure some seventy-two unmanned MQ-25 Stingrays for active service aboard its carrier decks before the end.

The Boeing concept was partially unveiled in December of 2017 though it had been in existence since November of 2014 and born on paper in 2011. Captured images were then released in January of 2018 and official images followed in March of 2018. The Boeing MQ-25 prototype (known as the "T1") is currently (2018) undertaking carrier-suitability trials and has yet to complete its maiden flight as of this writing.

Performance and dimensions specifications on this page are estimated on the part of the author.




  Program Updates  


April 2018 - It was announced that Boeing has selected the Rolls-Royce AE3007 turbofan engine to power its MQ-25 aerial tanker UAV prototype.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (385mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Origin: United States
Year: 2025
Type: Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft Proposal
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Phantomworks - USA
Production: 1
Status: In-Development
Global Operators:
United States (possible)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

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* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
0


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
62.34 ft


Meters
19 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
39.37 ft


Meters
12 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
11.48 ft


Meters
3.5 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
14,110 lb


Kilograms
6,400 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
44,533 lb


Kilograms
20,200 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Rolls-Royce AE3007 turbofan engine of unknown thrust output.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
385 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
620 kph


Knots
335 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,485 mi


Kilometers
4,000 km


Nautical Miles
2,160 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
39,370 ft


Meters
12,000 m


Miles
7.46 mi

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None. Mission requirement solely consisting of fuel stores.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• MQ-25 "Stringray" - Base Series Designation
• T1 - Boeing Company designation of its sole prototype to date.