(stock photo of the MQ-25)
Boeing has seized the Navy’s MQ-25 “Stingray” tanker drone contract, a major victory for a company that has in recent years struggled to win combat aircraft awards, marking a major step toward a new kind of carrier air wing.
The contract cost 13 billion dollars, for a total of 72 MQ-25 the US Navy says. The award to Boeing kicks off what the Navy would is aiming to be a six-year development effort moving toward a 2024 declaration of initial operational capability. At the end, it will mark a historic integration of drones into the Navy’s carrier air wing. “I think we’ll look back on this day and recognize it as a pretty historic event,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.
“From an operational standpoint we are putting our feet in the water in a big way of integrating unmanned with manned into the air wing,” adding that getting the Stingray into the fleet will free up the Hornets now dedicated to the tanking mission.