Boeing has unveiled for the first time what it
believes is the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) best suited for
refueling U.S. Navy jets operating from aircraft carriers.
Through its MQ-25 competition, the Navy is
seeking unmanned refueling capabilities that would extend the
combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G
Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters.
The MQ-25 will also
have to seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch
and recovery systems.
“Boeing has been delivering carrier aircraft to
the Navy for almost 90 years,” said Don ‘BD’ Gaddis, a retired
admiral who leads the refueling system program for Boeing’s
Phantom Works technology organization. “Our expertise gives us
confidence in our approach. We will be ready for flight testing
when the engineering and manufacturing development contract is
awarded.” The UAS is completing engine runs before heading to the
flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations early next year.
The Navy issued its final request for proposals
in October. Proposals are due 3 January 2018.