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Boeing MQ-25 Stingray - United States, 2025

Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 12/20/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Boeing MQ-25 Stingray  
Picture of Boeing MQ-25 Stingray

Boeing unveiled its MQ-25 Stingray unmanned tanker aircraft in a December 19th, 2017 press release.

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. Key contenders in the requirement include Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman with the latter since having removed itself from the competition (despite its advanced work into the X-47B demonstrator products).

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.

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.

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 is 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.

Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Specifications

Service Year: 2025
Status: In-Development
Type: Carrierbased Unmanned Tanker Aircraft
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Phantomworks - USA
Total Production: 1

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 0

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: Not available.

Armament / Mission Payload

None. Mission requirement solely consisting of fuel stores.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

United States (possible)

Model Variants

MQ-25 "Stringray" - Base Series Designation

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